BROOKFIELD, Ill. (CBS) — There were positive changes to report Tuesday after a headache in Brookfield that trapped people in their homes.
As CBS 2’s Steven Graves reported, the neighbors said the Brookfield Zoo light show crowds created massive traffic jams on their small streets.
But now, police have put in a fix.
That fix is plastic barriers that block traffic from invading the streets. But some say on the last night of the light show, the solution is too little, too late.
For years, Michael Kayse has waited for something like the orange-and-white-striped barriers – it’s nothing special but it’s a solution.
“It’s a positive move and it seems to have been working,” Kayse said, “but this should have been done years ago.”
It is the solution from Brookfield police after CBS 2 talked to residents suffering traffic trauma from the Brookfield Zoo Holiday Magic lights show.
The massive weekend crowds would seep into small neighborhood streets and trap people in their homes. Kayse said the fix helped a little, but could have been more effective.
“There was no notification of the fact that they were going to put those up, and what exactly they meant,” he said.
“I put up a couple of signs on the barriers just saying not to enter,” added James Wilson.
Wilson took that action after being fed up himself. He put up signs that read, “No thru traffic,” and, “Resident access only.”
Some waiting in traffic have urinated in Wilson’s yard.
But there is a flipside to all this. A growing debate online has brought out people who say residents are overreacting to a once-a-year headache.
Wilson sees it differently, and felt like no one was listening.
“Every year, it seems to be getting progressively worse and worse,” he said.
The Brookfield police chief told CBS 2 the new barriers at more than a dozen cross-streets are a start to fixing the problem.
Zoo officials said the unusually big crowds of about 20,000 this year have also got them thinking about ways to ease the traffic.
But it’s a team effort, or lack thereof, that Kayse said led to all of this.
“A total lack of communication between, I believe, the Brookfield Police Department and authorities at Brookfield Zoo,” he said.
But at least now, he said, neighbors are being heard.
“Whatever you did made an impact,” Kayse told Graves.
To ease traffic, zoo officials said they want people to come earlier – while police want the zoo to better manage how it takes tickets.
But groups plan to meet next month for ways to find a solution.