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March 23, 2018

3/7/2018 3:19:00 PM
“Chomp, chomp, chomp” go the beavers.RoundTable photo
“Chomp, chomp, chomp” go the beavers.
RoundTable photo

... that the building at Simpson and Dodge partially collapsed more than a week ago, and the City reportedly decided that the remainder of the structure should go as well. The pile of rubble is being cleaned up. The fate of the restaurant that was slated to go there is unknown at this point.

… that, early morning light and singing birds aside, here is a sign of spring: sewer pipe rehab is beginning again. This is for the combined sewer that follows the Mulford Street right-of-way starting at the southwest corner of James Park and extending west to the North Shore Channel. Insituform Technologies will perform the work, which is, in the City’s words, “part of a multi-year effort to improve the reliability of critical large-diameter combined sewer mains in several areas of the City.” A low-interest loan from the Clean Water State Revolving Fund will allow the $376,290 project to be completed without an increase in sewer rates. Readers will recall that the process used is called cured-in-place piping, through which a liner is placed inside the old pipe and “cured” with a resin as hot water is flushed through the pipe and liner. There have been some concerns about styrene, one of the chemicals in the resin. Here’s what the City says about that: “The resin used in the lining process has been used in the fiberglass industry for many years. The resin contains a chemical called styrene that hardens when heated. Although styrene has an unpleasant odor, it is not dangerous at the levels at which people can detect it. If you smell styrene while the contractor’s personnel are working in your area, do not be alarmed.”

… that the City is encouraging residents to sign up for the 50/50 Sidewalk Replacement Program. Repair and replacement of damaged sidewalk slabs are the responsibility of the homeowner or business whose property is adjacent to the sidewalk. Under the City’s program, the City will pay half the cost, and the homeowner or business owner the other half – $96.06 apiece per slab in 2017. Once people have signed up for the program and the City has selected a contractor, the new prices will be set. Participation is on a first-come, first-served basis, and residents can sign up at or call/text 847-448-4311.

… that, speaking of City-resident cooperation, here is information, given recently to constituents by an alderman about how residents can petition for stop signs. The request should be made to the Public Works Agency through the 311 system. For all-way stops, City staff will evaluate the intersection to see if the Federal/State Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) needs are met, such as a certain volume of traffic for a certain number of hours per day and the recurrence of accidents, which might be mitigated by stop signs. The MUTCD does not allow stop signs to control speeding. All-way stop signs might do the trick; a neighborhood consensus and aldermanic approval are needed before Council will consider the proposal.   

Speed Humps
Speed humps, used to control speeding, are allowed on minor local streets, but not major streets, snow routes, truck routes, fire/emergency access routes, CTA/Pace routes, dead-end street blocks, etc. Residents need to get a petition signed and approved by the alderman before various City departments will get involved to evaluate the request. And then it will make its way to City Council.

Alley Speed Bumps
These are permanent asphalt bumps for alleys that have concrete or asphalt surfaces. The approval process requires a petition signed by two-thirds of the abutting property parcels on both sides of the alley agreeing to the permanent asphalt speed bumps. As with street speed-humps, layers of approval are required before funding will appear in the next available capital plan. Alternatively, residents can request alley speed limit 15 mph signs or “No Thru Traffic” signs if cut-through traffic is an issue.

Speed Radar Feedback Signs
Speed radar-feedback signs are helpful on major arteries where speeding is a problem. There are 20 permanent ones around town, and some traveling ones as well. The permanent signs have been installed near designated school crossing locations as part of the Safe Routes to School program funded primarily through federal funds.

... that one or more beavers have been enjoying these trees in the Ladd Arboretum. Someone has now put short fences around to obviate the annoying (angnawing?) problem.

… that GasBuddy, which daily surveys 1,437 gas outlets in the Chicago area, reported that gas prices in the area fell about 3 cents per gallon at the end of last month, but  were still almost 22 cents per gallon higher than those a year ago.
Patrick DeHaan, Senior Petroleum Ananlyst for GasBuddy, said, “But March typically comes in more like a lamb and goes out like a lion, and I certainly would expect more fireworks at the pump as temperatures begin to warm and gasoline demand begins to perk up.”

… that in his Feb. 25 column, the Tribune’s architectural critic noted that “residents have made a blood sport of attacking high-rise plans they deem out of character.” He praised The Main, 847 Chicago, for its design as a transit-oriented development – its shape, setbacks, “saw-toothed wall of glass,” (its “visual calling card”) lively mix of uses, and the video monitor to let folks know when the next CTA train will arrive.

From our readers:
TG: I was dismayed to learn from your column that the City is planning to phase the stoplight at Ridge and Lake like the one at Ridge and Main. Has anyone in charge checked out that light at rush hour? Southbound traffic on Ridge routinely backs up past Lee Street during the evening rush hour. As a nearby resident who occasionally wants to simply cross Ridge at Lee, I often find Ridge completely blocked by those southbound cars. I can only imagine the nightmare this might cause closer to Church and Davis. And while we’re on the subject of traffic, can you (or someone) please explain to me the logic behind the countdown timers on walk lights at some intersections? Some lights turn yellow when the timer reaches zero, others any time between 3 and 10 seconds after the timer reaches zero. This is confusing and counterintuitive for pedestrians as well as drivers. Seems to me that turning yellow on zero is most logical, but can’t we at least have them all be the same?  – Peter Kirkpatrick

From TG: Thank you for your thoughts about the Lake/Ridge traffic signal proposal. TG passed your query about the timing of yellow lights onto the City’s traffic guys. Here is their response:
“We believe the question relates to where a signalized intersection with count-down pedestrian signals will count down to zero, but the vehicle signals will remain green for an additional time. If so, this does happen at some of the intersections in the City where we have pedestrian push- buttons and vehicle detection. When the push-buttons are activated, they will allow the necessary time for the pedestrian to cross, but will extend the green time to the vehicle traffic if there is a queue. If there is a specific intersection that is of concern, residents can put in a request through 311 and we will follow up. and will let you know their response.”

TG: I was very upset with the “The Traffic Guy hears...” reporting street cleaning changes and lowering of Ridge Avenue speed limits, in the Feb. 22 RoundTable. This’ll be the third time that street-cleaning schedules have been recently revised, resulting in re-signage and citizen reprogramming. I wonder whether City staff is capable of anticipating other problems like this. Furthermore, lowering the Ridge Avenue speed limit from 30 to 25 mph eliminates the last north-south Evanston thoroughfare to Chicago providing decent traffic flow. Sheridan Road., Chicago Avenue, and Asbury Avenue are a drag, and Dodge Avenue, with the bike lanes and recently reduced 25 mph limit, is a disaster. The result will be gridlock increasing urban pollution. So much for greening Evanston.  – Fred Wittenberg

From TG: Thank you for your observations, Mr. Wittenberg. TG hopes that the new street-cleaning times will benefit, not annoy, community members.

From TG to Peter Anderson, who asked about the equipment often parked in the “dead-end” lane in front of Kingsley School: The lane has looked pretty vacant lately. Maybe the Powers That Be heard you.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that Evanston is incredibly fortunate to have many, many intelligent residents who give thoughtful suggestions about how to improve the City. One of these is Richard Miller, who has taken on the task of making sure the new Central Street bridge will be aesthetically pleasing. He has photographed and detailed local bridges that are, well, gorgeous up close – including the one at Emerson. There is no reason for Evanston not to follow suit. The project is slated to begin next year, so there is still time to plan for aesthetics. Mr. Miller has copied the Mayor and the Aldermen on his thoughts.

… that Spring is in the air.

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