Frequently Asked Questions

City Engineer

Frequently asked questions submitted by the City Engineer.

Question: What’s up with the downtown stoplights? Why are they blinking red?

The controller units (the working parts that turn the lights from red to yellow to green) for the lights at two of the intersections simply quit working. The parts were shot and gave out. Given the age of the  stoplights, the City can no longer buy replacement parts. We would have to buy all new controller units.

The lights at the one remaining intersection where the controller unit still worked were set to blink red so as to not confuse drivers. We had several near accidents at that intersection. People would pull up, see a red light, assume it was blinking like the others, and pull on through when they should have been waiting for a green light.

Since the City can't buy replacement controllers for the broken lights at the two intersections, we will be required to outfit the lights with new controllers for all three intersections. The estimated cost to purchase and install three brand new controller units is around $40,000. 

If State or federal funds were used to purchase the new controllers, IDOT traffic regulations would require the City to replace the existing light standards (the actual stoplight poles themselves on the concrete bases). Those new standards would be flush to the ground and equipped with break-away bases. If we would be required to do that, the cost would be approximately $75,000 per intersection.

Coupled with this situation is the fact that the City recently received a State grant to develop plans for the revitalization of downtown. These plans will include both a traffic study and designs for new streetscape features (meaning sidewalks, landscaping, seating, and lighting in public spaces downtown). The plans will include recommendations on each of the downtown intersections. These recommendations will answer questions like: How should traffic flow through our downtown? Should the downtown corners become 4-way stop sign controlled intersections, or remain stoplight controlled intersections? 

Rather than spending at least $40,000 to "fix" the lights and then having recommendations that suggest something different than stoplights, the City has decided to keep the lights blinking until the plan recommendations are known. The City will involve the public in the development of the downtown recommendations. We hope to have the plan complete by sometime in late 2012 or early 2013.

Question:  How do I file a complaint about a rough railroad crossing?


Answer:  All railroad crossings fall under the jurisdiction of the railroad that owns the rail line. The City of Lincoln has no authority to replace any railroad crossings within the City limits.


Lincoln residents can file complaints about any railroad crossing with the Illinois Commerce Commission. The ICC then takes up the matter with the prospective railroad.


Complaints about railroad crossings may be filed in one of three ways:


Online –go to and follow the steps.


By phone – call 1-800-524-0795 between the hours of 8:30 AM and 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday to register a complaint.


By mail –write a letter to file a complaint and send it to:


Illinois Commerce Commission

527 East Capitol Ave

Springfield, IL. 62701


Initial complaints are considered informal complaints and are handled by ICC staff. If a resolution is not reached through an informal complaint, Lincoln residents may pursue formal complaints which are assigned docket numbers and handled by an Administrative Law Judge.


Useful information when completing a complaint form: If Lincoln residents wish to file complaints about the 5th Street Road railroad crossing, it is controlled by the Union Pacific Railroad.

Question: What is seal coating? Why does the City do this to the streets in the summer?


Answer: Seal coating (also known as chip sealing) is a maintenance procedure that is done to help preserve pavements. As both sealcoat and asphalt pavements age, cracks form in the surface. The cracks allow water to penetrate the road base, weakening the pavement. The oil that is applied to the surface seals these cracks, helping to waterproof and protect the pavement.


Typically, a sealcoat application may be reapplied every three to five years. The condition of the pavement dictates the frequency.


The sealcoating process begins with cleaning the pavement with a street sweeper to remove loose rock and debris. A Distributor is used to apply the bituminous material (oil) at a controlled rate. Following the Distributor is a self-propelled Chip Spreader. This piece of equipment takes rock from dump trucks and applies a uniform layer across the pavement. After this, a Pneumatic (rubber-tire) Roller is driven across the new sealcoat surface to help ‘seat’ the rock. The final step in the process is to remove excess rock with a street sweeper to help prevent accumulations of loose rock on the street.


Information is available on the following sites:
Logan County Current Statistics

Memorial Health System  - Includes daily statistics for MHS and a COVID-19 Risk Screening

Local Business Resources
Logan County Department of Public Health
Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH)
Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)



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City Hall
700 Broadway Street
Lincoln, Illinois 62656



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