Navigating a left turn from Target or Portillo’s onto West Jefferson Avenue can be a harrowing experience, especially during lunch and evening rush hours.
The problem will only be exacerbated with increased traffic from the new businesses and stores expected to occupy the Westridge Court and Heritage Square shopping centers, which will be undergoing a major renovation once final plans for the Block 59 business district are approved.
Before the situation gets worse, the Naperville City Council this week asked staff to broach the idea of installing a traffic light on Jefferson, east of Route 59, with businesses that would benefit from it.
That stretch has been the scene of many vehicle crashes, with the number increasing over the last three years, officials said.
In 2022, six crashes were reported on Jefferson near the area where drivers are entering and exiting the Target store lot on the north and Westridge Court — home to stores like Cost Plus World Market, Bed Bath & Beyond and Painted Tree Marketplace — on the south , Naperville police said.
That’s up from five crashes there in 2021 and three in 2020, data shows.
The issue was broached by the council Tuesday night during discussions with Brixmor Property Group, which owns Westridge Court and Heritage Square and has plans to remove existing buildings to create Block 59, a regional upscale dining and entertainment complex with a community lawn for events.
Andrew Balzer, property director for Brixmor, said his company is willing to contribute its share of a new traffic light, but would not cover the entire cost.
Target, located north of West Jefferson Avenue, has balked at any contribution, according to city officials.
Councilman Paul Hinterlong said when talking with people about the Block 59 project, he was surprised to learn how many people drive to the Target on Diehl Road in Warrenville because it’s easier to get in and out than the one on Jefferson Avenue.
Councilwoman Nicki Anderson said once the new Block 59 restaurants are up, “I can’t imagine what a nightmare that will be from a navigation standpoint. I would love to see something there sooner than later.”
To speed things up, Councilman Patrick Kelly suggested the city work out some type of funding arrangement with Brixmor and the nearby businesses that would benefit from a traffic light.
Brixmor could pay half the cost, the council agreed, and city staff would find a way to fund the remainder of the expense.
Bill Novack, the city’s Transportation, Engineering and Development director, said Target could come to the realization that a light is a good investment.
“They pay helped; Brixmor pays helped. That’s the easy solution,” he said.
Another option, he said, is setting up a special service area where money is collected to fund the light. But for that to happen, he said, more than half the property owners must agree.