Alderman Kamalen Johnson Anderson

Alderman Kamalen Johnson Anderson raises concerns about the practice of drivers making illegal J-turns in downtown Paxton during Tuesday's city council meeting.

Listen to this article

PAXTON — While drivers have been making so-called “J-turns” in downtown Paxton for decades, the practice happens to be illegal, plus unsafe, a city council member warned Tuesday.

“I see it happening a lot, especially at the post office, in front of (the local drug stores), some of the restaurants,” Alderman Kamalen Johnson Anderson said during Tuesday’s council meeting. “I’m surprised we don’t have very many accidents there, but I just have a concern for the public safety, for people not abiding by (the law).”

A J-turn is made when a driver turns left into an angled parking space on the opposite side of the road. Under city ordinance, it is illegal and punishable by a fine.

“I think some people just don’t know it’s illegal; it’s not that they’re intentionally disobeying the law,” Johnson Anderson said. “And I think people see it done, so they think they can do it. That’s part of it, too.”

Johnson Anderson said she would like Paxton police to issue warnings to violators to see if that helps correct the situation. Tickets could be issued to repeat offenders, she suggested.

Police Chief Coy Cornett said he could have his officers stationed periodically on Market Street downtown to enforce the J-turn ordinance.

Alderman Rob Steiger pointed out that, technically, drivers using Market Street also are not legally allowed to make a left turn across the double-yellow line to access Casey’s General Store across from City Hall.

“By law, you shouldn’t,” Steiger said. “It’s a double-yellow line, and you do not cross a double-yellow line. It’s in their driver’s book.”

Steiger’s assumptions, however, may be incorrect. Under both state law and city ordinance, drivers can legally cross a double-yellow line to make a left turn as long as the turn is made into or from an alley, private road or driveway.