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Employee Spotlight

Jason Salley – District 1 Geometric Studies Unit Head

Jason Salley, District 1 Geometric Studies Unit head, loves a good puzzle. 

On staff at IDOT since 2001, his first three years were spent in the bureaus of Construction, Land Acquisition and Design. He then moved to the Geometrics Studies Unit, which reviews and approves all lane reconfiguration, widening, new construction and reconstruction projects proposed along state routes within District 1. 

“Besides the wonderful people I interact with day to day, I love the challenge of figuring out the puzzle that is designing and reconfiguring the state highway system to be the most efficient and safe it can be,” Salley said. 

In keeping with this goal, Salley has become an expert on roundabouts. He first became familiar with them when helping put together a project in Kane County. 

“In 2009, the Kane County DOT was pursuing the installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Illinois 47 and Burlington Road in the village of Campton Hills,” Salley said. “The intersection at that time was operating under all-way stop control, and the traffic volumes, especially during peak hours, were exceeding capacity, causing significant delays and queuing. The design of a traffic signal exceeded the project’s budget. 

“In working with the county, we discovered that the traffic volume composition of the intersection indicated that a roundabout would operate well at this location. From there, the county, their consultant and I very slowly but purposefully investigated how to design and operate a modern roundabout. The investigation included not only research but also discussions with industry leaders throughout the country. The result was a modern roundabout that came in near budget, necessitated less right of way than the traffic signal and, according to capacity analyses, would operate better than the traffic signal. 

“The roundabout at this location opened in 2016. Since then, District 1 has been the lead or participated with other agencies on multiple projects that include roundabouts.” 

Salley said the data on roundabouts speaks for itself. 

“When a location is a good fit for a roundabout – meaning that the traffic composition is appropriate, the right of way is available, and the design is adequate – a roundabout will be efficient and very safe.” 

What’s more, this boost in safety extends to more than motorists alone. 

“With the increased awareness and focus on non-motorized safety and accommodations, the relatively slower operations of a roundabout have shown positive effects on the safety performance of pedestrians and bicyclists without sacrificing the ability to handle larger vehicles.” 

There are approximately 20 roundabouts along the state highway system in Illinois, with about 35 more in various phases of development. 

Since taking on his current role, Salley has overseen the implementation of not only modern roundabouts, but also diverging diamond interchanges, protected bicycle lanes and buses on expressway shoulders. The unit has previously investigated potential implementation of a managed lane along an expressway and is considering installation of a continuous flow intersection. 

“All of this has pushed me to understand new industry technologies,” Salley said.

Salley graduated from Purdue University in 2000 and spent some time at a couple of consulting firms before joining the department in 2001. Even before his college years, he had long been curious about building and design. 

“As a child, I loved to play with LEGOs, Lincoln Logs, Capsela and Erector sets,” Salley said. “This helped me with the spatial interaction of designs, which I believe has evolved into helping me conceptualize the form and geometric interaction of cross-sectional elements.”