City council supportive of Carle Hospital expansion plan in spite of traffic issues

By Pamela Nisivaco

Street closures near Carle Hospital and future hospital expansion plans were the focus of Tuesday’s Urbana City Council meeting.

While councilmembers overall seemed pleased with Carle’s expansion plans, the decision on most street closures was deferred for two weeks.

Heather Stevenson, Ward 6, said when more than street closures is looked at, a Carle expansion will provide more jobs, better health care and better safety. The closures of Coler and University avenues was the main concern because Coler is the street where the ambulance drop-off for Carle Hospital’s Emergency Room is located.

Stevenson said she has witnessed several close calls involving ambulances and vehicle traffic as well as foot traffic on Coler Avenue by the emergency room entrance.

Closing Coler Avenue would eliminate all vehicular traffic on the street.

“Public traffic on Coler tends to be in conflict with ambulance delivery using the same street,” Dennis Roberts, Ward 5, said.

An Urbana resident who spoke at the meeting was less concerned with street closures, but questioned a plan on where construction vehicles will be parking during the duration of the project. Andrea Antulov of the 800 block of Busey Avenue said she wants to see something in writing on where the machinery and construction traffic will be working and parking.

“The city and Carle have to all be participants in making a plan for the neighborhood,” Brandon Bowersox, Ward 4, said.

Bowersox said he thinks the expansion project will be beneficial because it will bring more regional health care to a core neighborhood of Urbana. Stevenson said Carle has gone above and beyond the call of duty with this project.

Charlie Smyth, Ward 1, said he also supports this project because it will benefit Urbana.

“We as a community should partner with Carle because they are a level one trauma center and provide great care to east central Illinois,” Stevenson said.