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Oak Forest, District 142 Flip Switch on Stoplight at Site of Student's Injury

Oak Forest, Cook County and Forest Ridge District 142 officials gathered Oct. 7 to activate a stoplight at Hille Middle School. The light was installed as a safety measure after a student was struck by a car in April.

Staff at Hille Middle School can breathe easier when students leave school for the day, after the activation of a stoplight near the site of a student's injury last spring.

District 142 officials, along with Oak Forest and Cook County representatives happily flipped the switch that they hope will keep students safe. 

The sidewalk and a new stoplight are safety measures planned after student Alex Fitzgerald was struck by a car in April 2012. Alex, who is still recovering from a traumatic brain injury sustained in the accident, inspired city and school officials to seek help from Cook County Commissioner Joan Murphy, to make the area safer for students. 

"It is an incredible day for us," said Superintendent Dr. Margaret Longo. "The fact that the county acted so quickly to ensure the safety of the children....

"We're thrilled. So grateful."

District and city officials approached Cook County Commissioner Joan Murphy with their concerns for students' safety early in the summer. Student Alex Fitzgerald was the second to be struck by a car at the spot in front of the school, and district officials were concerned for the safety of other students. By late-August, aldermen had approved plans to install sidewalk and stoplight. 

"This was much, much needed," said Cook County Commissioner Joan Murphy. "We knew something had to be done. I was very happy to be able to get help for them."

A temporary stoplight is currently in place. The signal for traffic along 151st. Street will remain green, unless triggered by a pedestrian pressing the "walk" button, or by traffic exiting the school parking lot. Permanent stoplights will be erected in the spring. The County covered the $250,000 cost of the stoplight; the city and school district together paid roughly $67,000 for sidewalk installation, divided amongst the two entities.

Cook County Chief Administrative Officer Robin Kelly noted the teamwork behind the effort, and the expediency of the project. 

"It's a good example of all parties coming together," Kelly said. 

Oak Forest City Administrator Troy Ishler agreed.

"I've had permits take longer," Ishler joked. 

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NANCY GRACE November 08, 2012 at 12:08 PM
Good to hear! Now we shall wait for a student to get hit crossing 151st at Oxford to get to and from Oak Forest hs. Y? Because there isn't sidewalk on the north side of 151st...sit back and wait for it. Lets do things half way.
Dave November 08, 2012 at 06:21 PM
Always the negative one! Way to see the bad in something good happening Nancy! If this light saves one life/accident, it was worth it. Try turning your negativity into something good for a change.
Bob Laird November 08, 2012 at 07:13 PM
I'm happy to hear that the stop light is there and the kids will be a little more protected. But 250 thousand for a single stoplight??!!! No wonder our taxes are going nuts and the county's going broke. Who OK'd that kind of money for a SINGLE light? The same guy that paid $1000 for a toilet seat?
Tired of the B.S. November 08, 2012 at 09:11 PM
Just wondering if the $250,000 is the entire cost or will it cost more when the permanent light is installed next spring? Also kind of wondering why a temporary light and then a permanent light, why not just do the permanent light and be done with it?
NANCY GRACE November 08, 2012 at 10:25 PM
Hey dave go jump into lake emily! You are a joke. I clearly stated it was good to hear, My point was the whole block of 151st has an issue with missing sidewalks...i would rather see measures taken to prevent this from happening again, why sit back and have a repeat?? Im trying to prevent AT LEAST one child from being hit. Wake up buddy!!!!!!

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