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What’s coming around the corner? Vehicles keep crashing onto Elgin homeowner’s property


Christopher Hilton tenses every time a vehicle turns onto his street. And who can blame the Elgin homeowner after multiple crashes into his property?

The culprit, Hilton says, is a problematic offramp a short distance from his Illinois Avenue home.

Westbound Route 20 drivers heading to northbound Route 25 access it from a ramp leading onto Illinois Avenue. At the ramp’s end, they must navigate a sharp 90-degree turn correctly to proceed.

Not everyone does, especially those traveling at the 45 mph limit or faster.

“They think it’s more like a traditional ramp,” Hilton said, “so they don’t start to turn soon enough and keep going straight.”

Straight into his yard, trees, house and car, that is.

In an interview Thursday, Hilton said he is thankful no one in his family, including three kids ages 5 to 14, has been hit.

But “there’s a constant feeling of being on edge. It’s almost like a level of PTSD where I’m constantly watching that offramp if I’m outside.”



He’s counted 14 occurences ranging from battered traffic signs to a downed utility pole since 2016. For example:

• February 2016: A car sped off the Route 20 ramp and battered the front corner of his house, damaging the foundation.

• Oct. 1, 2016: A van drove into a large tree directly in line with Hilton’s home.

• April 12, 2020 (Easter): An SUV slammed into a mature tree and dragged it through the grass until it hit one of his vehicles. A week later, a car banged into a utility pole, which toppled, knocking out his power.

Insurance has covered house and car repair costs, but it’s not just about property damage. A pickup truck collided with a large tree in the yard on Feb. 1, 2022. The driver and his daughter complained of injuries and were taken to the hospital, Hilton said.

His stepsons, ages 12 and 14, love a game of football in the expansive side yard. But on Nov. 23, 2019, an SUV careened into the grass just 30 minutes after the boys went inside, and Hilton worries about worst-case scenarios.



“I don’t like them being outside, and I don’t like them being outside alone,” he said. “I don’t think they grasp how dangerous it could be.”

Elgin police have responded to collisions, but the ramp falls under the jurisdiction of the Illinois Department of Transportation.

“In the past, the Elgin Police Department has reached out to IDOT to express their concerns about the ramp,” public information officer Sgt. Mike Martino said.

Asked about the issue, IDOT officials said they are studying the Route 20 corridor in Elgin and developing a major upgrade. It will “address safety and mobility from Nesler Road to Shales Parkway, which includes the Illinois Avenue exit,” spokeswoman Maria Castaneda said.

The U.S. 20 at Shales Parkway project anticipates adding lanes between Grace and State streets as well as bridge, intersection and drainage improvements. IDOT also would rebuild the Fox River bridge with two through lanes in both directions, and cyclist and pedestrian access.

“At Illinois Avenue, the proposed improvement will lengthen the deceleration lane to provide more distance to slow down before the exit curve,” Castaneda said.

In the short term, IDOT has communicated with Hilton and the city, she said. “Sign revisions have been made, including a reduction in the ramp advisory speed to 15 mph and double-mounting chevron signs per post to better guide drivers exiting (Route) 20 onto Illinois Street.”

“The project is completing final design, with land acquisition and construction to follow,” Castaneda said. Bidding for construction contracts will start “in the next couple of years.”

Hilton wants a solution now and says that changing the ramp speed and additional signage isn’t enough. On Jan. 4, a man joy-riding in a stolen Hyundai hit a tree outside his front door. The driver fled and the car ambled across Hilton’s front yard, over his mailbox and into a neighbor’s bushes.

“To me it’s very frustrating,” said Hilton, who has built a berm as a deterrent but really wishes IDOT would install a guard rail. “It would stop a lot, (though) it wouldn’t stop everything.

“There’s trucks that just fly (off the ramp),” he noted, warily eying a semitrailer.

“I’m like, ‘You have a lot of weight. You are a very big vehicle, and if you miss that (turn) I don’t know if this tree can stop it. Every time I hear a tire squeal … it’s, ‘OK, what’s going on?'”

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