MAHOMET, Ill. (WCIA) — 30-year-old Colton Fender’s death following a motorcycle crash last Thursday sparked an online movement.
Nearly a thousand people have signed a petition to add traffic signals to the intersection where his motorcycle collided with another vehicle. Fender was headed north toward I-74 on N Lombard Street before the accident happened at Eastwood Drive.
Family friend Chuck Huskisson is behind the petition. He said his son and Fender were motorcycle-riding companions and otherwise dear friends.
“My mother-in-law actually called me and said that my son was with her at the time, and he got up and ran, and that’s when I heard about it at 8:00 on Thursday night,” Huskisson recalled.
He said by the time his son arrived at the hospital, Fender had already died.
That’s when grief turned to action. He created a petition to put a stop light at the intersection where the crash happened.
“I’ve lived around this area all my life. I just know how difficult it can be to get out on [Lombard St.] from [Eastwood Dr.],” Huskisson said.
Mahomet’s community development director Kelly Pfeifer said the proposal for traffic signals wouldn’t work. It’s a matter of jurisdiction. Lombard St., otherwise known as IL Route 47, is a state highway, which means changes to it are out of the Village’s control.
State requirements appear to rule out a stop light altogether. According to state criteria, which Pfeifer called “absolute,” traffic signals have to be a minimum of 1,100 feet apart, there’s already a stop light about 450 feet away from Eastwood Dr. on Lombard St., at Franklin St.
“I just thought it’d be a great idea and something to honor Colton’s life that he had with maybe trying to do something about this intersection,” Huskisson said, adding “there’s a lot of things to talk about and like I said, this is only the beginning.”
A Champaign County Regional Planning Commission crash map labels both intersections a medium risk. The data also showed that between 2016 and 2020 there were six crashes at Eastwood and seven at franklin. None were deadly.
Huskisson also took to social media to propose a roundabout.
Pfeifer doesn’t believe there’s room for it. The space available to build one at the intersection is less than what the village had to work with in building the roundabout in front of Middletown Prairie Elementary, which Pfeifer considered small.
Huskisson has asked for other suggestions. He’s gotten a couple, including “no right turn” out of the Hen House restaurant which leads to the intersection of Eastwood Dr. and Lombard St. or, “Maybe no left turn” off of Eastwood onto Lombard.
“It’s only been a few days since I started this,” Huskisson said referring to the petition.
“Everybody would like to do something about it because a lot of people grew up around here that signed the petition it sounds like and they know how difficult this is.”
Huskisson said he plans to bring the conversation to the village board in the coming weeks. In the meantime, he and his son will be attending Fender’s funeral and “remembering the good stuff.”
The Illinois Department of Transportation did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the feasibility of building a roundabout at the intersection. A representative is working on that request for reporters.