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Efforts of bus driver, police officer keep streets safe

Brock A. Stein | 1/31/2018, 9:45 a.m.
On the route he drives through Joliet, bus driver Greg Sylvester noticed something recently that could pose a hazard to ...

On the route he drives through Joliet, bus driver Greg Sylvester noticed something recently that could pose a hazard to local commuters.

Sylvester, who drives for First Transit, travels a route that runs from St. Joe’s hospital to out near Louis Joliet Mall in the west end of the city.

One part of the loop he drives takes him down Infantry Drive where he noticed several road reflectors that were laying in the roadway last week.

From Theodore to Jefferson he said he noticed about 10 of them in the road and saw a few on Theodore as well.

“I’m up and down there 5 to 6 times a day,” said Sylvester who lives in Crest Hill.

The reflectors, that mark the center line of roads, can become dislodged during the freeze and thaw cycle that takes place during the winter months.

While he drove his route last week, a car a few lengths ahead of him hit one of the reflectors which nearly hit his bus.

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Plainfield resident Ed Arter poses with two chunks that remain from a center-line road reflector that he found laying along Route 59 in 2014. Arter brought the pieces he called "shrapnel" to a village board meeting to bring attention to the danger the objects pose to commuters.

“It scared the hell out of me,” he said. Once that happened, he decided that he should report the hazards and he called the City of Crest Hill and Joliet roads departments. With the ice storm forecast, he believes that the crews had other concerns.

“I know they were busy but these things were out there on the road and they were a hazard,” he said.

Then, on his route last week, he pulled up near the city’s vehicle depot near the intersection of Infantry Drive and Cedarwood Dr. where he saw a police officer completing paperwork while he refueled his vehicle.

Sylvester said he explained the situation and the potential hazard to the public, and the officer, Terry Higgins, said he would see what he could do.

“It sounded like he was going to do it himself,” said Sylvester after the encounter.

“And I went down there an hour later and they were gone.”

Sylvester didn’t get Higgins’ name until he saw him again a couple of days later when he thanked him for acting so quickly. Higgins confirmed that he did remove several of the heavy, steel reflectors himself.

Joliet Police Chief Brian Benton said he wasn’t surprised by Higgins’ quick action. He said that the 17-year veteran of the department is assigned to the city’s Community policing unit.

“He understands the community service aspect of policing and he always has,” said Benton.

“He represents the department in such a professional manner that I’m not surprised that he acted on this so quickly.” Benton said that Higgins was reluctant to take credit for his efforts but the chief told him that he should enjoy the positive recognition.

“I told him he should be proud of the fact that he represents the department so well,” he said.

While Benton was grateful to hear of the positive outcome from the encounter, he also said that Sylvester should be recognized for his efforts at keeping the road-going public safe as well.

“A lot of people may have just driven past it,” said Benton, “The fact that he took the time to go to these different sources to get this problem rectified out of his concern for safety says a lot about him too.”

Indeed, Sylvester said that when he’s not driving his bus he does get out of his car to remove the reflectors himself but said that Higgins represents the Joliet Police Department well with his responsiveness to public safety concerns and should be recognized for it.

“Me and all my other drivers in Will County we appreciate it,” he said, “That guy, he stepped up.”