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home : columns : columns March 27, 2017

2/22/2017 4:18:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
Crews will install 17 bike racks on Washington and Chicago for commuters, shoppers, diners, Library patrons, etc. in the Main/Chicago area.
Crews will install 17 bike racks on Washington and Chicago for commuters, shoppers, diners, Library patrons, etc. in the Main/Chicago area.

… that Northwestern is asking the City to approve its “exterior and interior renovations” to Welsh-Ryan Arena. Folks may have already heard that Evanston Township High School will not be holding its commencement there this year, because of this multi-year renovation. The high school graduation ceremonies this year will be held in the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates. And Billie Jean King will deliver the NU commencement address, likely in Ryan Field.

… that the moon was reflected in the canal on an early morning last week.

 … that Backlot Coffee, which is becoming a favorite on Central Street, plans to have a restaurant and coffee-roasting facility two doors down from its present location – moving from 2012 to 2006, where Weichert Realtors used to be.

… that the City and the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago (MWRD) have agreed on a guestimate for disposal of the sludge generated at the water plant over the next 10 months – $215,770.96, to be paid in four installments. Here’s how the sludge comes about, according to the City: “The initial phase of the water treatment process involves adding coagulants to raw Lake Michigan water in order to form a ‘floc,’ which helps to trap and solidify impurities in the water and allow them to settle out prior to filtration. This material settles out as part of the mixing, sedimentation, and settling process into basins located underground on the north side of the Water Treatment Facility.” Twice a year, in October and April, the sludge is manually washed into a sewer and sent to MWRD for treatment. The sludge is analyzed, and the cost ascertained according to the amount of biological oxygen demand and suspended solids as well as the total volume of sludge. At the beginning of the calendar year, the City and MWRD “true up” accounts, and one pays more or credits the other, and they begin the cycle again. It’s been going on this way for 50 years.

… that, speaking of water,  the City has hired Stanley Consultants to perform engineering services and make building improvements to the City’s south standpipe pump station. The engineering pieces are primarily the installation of a modern motor control center (MCC) and the replacement of outdated electrical components that run the water pump and ancillary equipment there. Some structural and architectural modifications to the building are needed for the safe and proper operation of the new MCC, and some aged or damaged equipment needs to be rehabilitated.

… that the City has agreed to rent 200 downtown parking spaces to NU over the next year, under renewable leases. Fifty of the spaces will be in the Church-Clark garage, and the other 150 in the Maple Avenue garage. Revenue from the lease of these 50 (out of a total of 600, or 8%) spaces in the Church-Clark garage is anticipated to be $57,000. NU expects construction workers on campus projects to park there. There is a lot of construction going on east of Sheridan. But that’s not the sole reason. Readers may remember that there is a plan to develop a bike lane on Chicago between Davis and Sheridan, eliminating 52 parking spaces from Chicago Avenue and likely cramming more cars into the parking garage there. City figures show that the average occupancy morning (10 a.m.) rate in the garage from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31 of last year was 56%, an increase of 4% from the prior year. Projections for the next five years show a steady increment of 3.25% over the preceding year. The City and NU can renew the lease annually, and the City can adjust the rent.   
Leasing the second set of spaces – 150 in the Maple Avenue garage (11% of the spaces) – is expected to bring in revenue of $171,000 per year. This lease, too, is renewable and the rate can be adjusted. City figures showed an increase of parking in this garage as well, but the place is just over half full at best: The 10 a.m. rate last year was 40%, a 2% increase over the previous year. The City’s forecast for occupancy over the next four years maxes out at 58%. So, in other words, it seems the City thinks that, even with these rentals, there will be plenty of spots for residents and for patrons of Central Street.

… that the City will repurpose Ambulance 24 to become a dedicated Fire Department Underwater Rescue Response Vehicle. The Fire Department’s Underwater Rescue Team is responsible for all underwater rescue and recovery efforts.  Perhaps some have seen teams practicing ice rescues at Lovelace Park Lagoon (not this year, though). In 2015, the Fire Department’s Underwater Rescue Team responded to six dive incidents within the City and two more as mutual aid to neighboring communities. The City says the Underwater Rescue Team is storing and deploying its equipment from Squad Company 21, a multi-purpose heavy rescue vehicle currently used to store and transport dedicated equipment for all five department special rescue teams (Hazardous-Materials/High Angle Rescue/Structural Collapse/Trench Collapse/Dive). Since the amount of equipment each team needs has increased significantly over the past nine years, space is becoming more and more cramped and limited. “This has prohibited divers from having enough space to store the gear in a ‘ready’ position and consequently, upon arrival at an emergency, divers must find, unpack, assemble, and then don the gear before going into the water, losing valuable rescue time,” according to the City. The conversion will cost about $20,000, whereas a new dive vehicle would cost upwards of $100,000. According to the City’s current vendor, Americas Auto Auction, the retired ambulance would have an estimated auction value of $13,000 to $15,000.

… that 40 bike-parking spaces will be installed on Washington near the Main Street CTA station. The proposal is for eight bike racks on the sidewalk “between the metered parking spaces on Washington, three feet from the back of the curb,” and at Washington and Chicago, a concrete pad with nine bike racks.
The City and the Fed will all chip in for the $70,000 project, with 80% ($56,000) being paid through a federal Congestion Mitigation Air Quality grant. The remaining $14,000 will be paid up front by the City, but the RTA has promised to reimburse that amount when the project is completed. Staff has also contracted construction engineering services with Hampton, Lenzini and Renwick in the amount of $9,588.

From our readers: TG: This note was posted by Posted by The Barrister in The Culture:
A note to you people who walk on the side of the road, or cross the road, between dusk and dawn in black coats, dark pants, and dark hats: One of these days I will hit you with my car, and it will ruin both of our lives. Please stop it. You are invisible to me. When I am driving, I am not looking for people in the road. You road people have to make yourselves obvious to me. Cars have rear lights for a reason. I have already had a couple of close calls this winter and when roads are slippery it is even more dangerous. If you must wear black, all it takes is a strip of reflector tape or one of those light things to keep yourself safe and to keep me from a mess.
Thought the above might be helpful to the RoundTable Readers.   – John Foley

From TG: Thanks, Mr. Foley.
TG too has been startled by jaywalkers wearing dark clothes at dusk – and has been accused of startling others when clad darkly on early-morning walks.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that the traffic light at the Ashland spur off Green Bay is a great way to promote smooth traffic flow, particularly at busy times. TG wonders if there is any feedback/reaction to the prohibition of crossing Ridge to make a turn from Grove, where eastbound traffic on Grove may not turn north, and westbound traffic there may not turn south.

… that, since February is almost over, some thoughts turn to the March Hare in Alice in Wonderland. Is it possible that he and the Mad Hatter were offering a comment on zero-sum games, irrational quantities or something else in this conversation?
“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”

Don’t forget that street-sweeping begins March 1.





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