A direct way to lead a duck to water.

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… that reconstruction of the Twiggs Park bicycle path has begun, as has work on the lakefront paths just south of

Clark Street

.

TG was particularly intrigued by the “Gravel Crossing” sign at the lakefront. How long does it take gravel to cross? (Already TG envisions witty answers to the question, ‘Why did the gravel cross the road?’)

… that the City will replace curb ramps on corners of the following streets: Grove/Hinman (northwest and southwest corners); Fowler/Nathaniel (northeast and northwest corners and Fowler alleys); Fowler/Greenleaf (all four corners); Keeney (alleys); Hovland (alleys); Cowper/Harrison (four corners); Grey/Dobson (four corners and alleys); and Elmwood/South (four corners and alleys). Many of these will also get new curbs.

… that, speaking of replacements, NICOR crews were recently digging near Eggleston Park, replacing the gas pipeline there.

… that the City is already stocking up on rock salt. The City approved a contract for the purchase of up to 6,600 tons of rock salt (cost: $72.35/ton). The City uses a lot of the salt but resells some of it to District 65 and to NU.

… that the City is also repairing the streetscape at the Main Library. The pavers were installed in 1995 on crushed limestone and sand and, since then, “numerous” pavers have “heaved, sunk and cracked,” causing at least five serious pedestrian falls.

… that the City is retaining local residents to rehab the exterior of the coach house at the Evanston Art Center and the sidewalks there. Eliot Dudnik & Associates will be the architect and Continental Construction will be the builder/rehabber. The coach house is a local landmark but has been vacant for 8 years.

… that, speaking of landmarks, the City’s Preservation Commission is planning to conduct a “systematic historical and architectural survey/re-survey of Evanston.”

… that parking lots 24 (700 block of

Main Street

) and 31 (925 Sherman) are going to be improved with upgraded sewer structures, new curbing, stabilized base material and, if necessary, new asphalt.

… that the air handler and condensers at Fire Station #2 will be replaced.

… that the masonry façade of the 

Maple Avenue

garage will be renovated. And, get this, we’re finally getting some public art there.

… that there are 353 motorized units in the City’s vehicular fleet: sedans, vans, pickups, fire trucks and other fire apparatus, EMT units, police cruisers, marine units and other trucks, etc.

… that a recent visitor from Baltimore said Chicago-area drivers are much ruder than Baltimore drivers. Seems Bal’mor folk don’t honk at the cars ahead of them or show other signs of immaturity but slow down, take it easy, let folks get in front of them and let others take their time. What a strange idea.

… that, speaking of strange ideas, a recent study showed that drivers who text are more dangerous than drivers who are inebriated. Someone suggested the texting-while-driving habit as “traffic drawl.” If so, would a ban on the practice be traffic “withdrawl”?

… that, speaking of strange – but in this case, true – researchers in the chemical and materials engineering department at the University of Nevada in Reno have made biofuel from the fat in chicken feathers. Last year it was coffee grounds. This news comes from the New York Times, which last week reported on a paper in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry. Seems there is such a thing as feather meal, which can contain up to 11 percent fat (as well as blood and offal), according to the Times story. Using a process called “transesterification” the researchers – Mano Misra, Susanta K. Mohapatra and their colleagues – converted the fat (extracted from the meal by boiling it in water) into biodiesel fuel. Now the chicken (or at least a part of it) can not only cross, but also ease on down, the road.

From our readers:

TG: I’ve lived in Evanston 20 years and have always been frustrated about the lack of timed lights on

Green Bay Road

.  I travel from Isabella to Ridge round-trip twice a day during the summer months, and the lights are totally random – and ill-timed for the traffic conditions at that.  Take a look at the light at Livingston and Green Bay, and you’ll see it’s timed for about 8-10 cars to go through from Livingston to Green Bay.  I’ve never seen more than 2-3 cars go through even at rush hour, so the north-south traffic just sits and waits unnecessarily.  And for the sequence of lights from Central down to Emerson it’s not uncommon to have to stop for most of these lights.

I called the traffic department about 7-8 years ago, and they didn’t seem to care.  With technology the way it is these days, and with the emphasis on Evanston’s “green” credential, many motorists would enjoy being able to travel Green Bay with a little more coordination of the traffic lights, and a little less frustration.

 What do you say?

Thanks, Marc Rolfes

From TG: Rajeev Dahal, senior traffic engineer for the City and gracious answerer of questions from TG, has once again responded to our plea for help. Here is his reply:

“The traffic signals along this corridor, except at McCormick, need to be upgraded and hard-wire-connected for coordination and better flow of traffic. We have already targeted this corridor for future grant application for federal funds through the Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality program.

“In the meantime, some visual coordination has been provided between Isabella and Simpson for better flow and to minimize the wait time.

“There will be occasions when drivers may need to wait a bit longer at the signals; this depends on the volume of traffic, where they are within that flow, speed and operating conditions.  

“Drivers coming into the system from one of the side streets could get stopped at various locations along the corridor.”

TG: I continually read about other readers complaining about leaf-blower use and police action or non-action to enforce the ordinance prohibiting their use. I am very close to someone who is involved in the enforcement of this ordinance and the calls to addresses where these violations are occurring. I am a little bothered by the fact that a recent reader feels the police should place these calls on high priority.

I guess this reader luckily lives in an area of Evanston where the only breach of the peace is a leaf blower. However, the police do have many other high-priority calls to address: daytime burglaries, drug dealing, stabbings, shots fired, etc, etc. So yes, these calls do fall to low priority and for good reason. It is funny that I can use a chainsaw, lawnmower, chipper, edger and all other types of power tools, but the five or 10 minutes of leaf blower to clean up the hours of other work causes residents to go into cardiac arrest. We love a beautifully manicured neighborhood but want to have landscapers do it with scissors and brooms. Let’s be real.             – O’Brien

From TG: You of course have a point, and the police doubtless feel the tension between enforcing the quality-of-life ordinances (TG is particularly annoyed by car boomboxes) and finding the people who are burglarizing homes, robbing citizens and worse.

TG: I needed to go to downtown Chicago today, so I thought I would park at the Howard CTA parking and take public transportation downtown. Well, I had a hard time getting out of the parking lot. The machines at the exit take only $1 and $5 bills. I had only a $20 bill. There is no one around to help. I had to back up, find another spot, go back down three flights. I had to buy something at the Dunkin’ Donuts so that I could get out of the parking lot. It makes no sense. If they can’t take credit cards, have no change machines (I checked in the station and there are none), and only take $1 or $5 bills, then there should be a huge sign as you come in to this effect. Then I could have made sure I had the right change when I came back into the lot. At least three other people had the same problem while I was there. I don’t get it. They build a beautiful new station and the parking lot is still in the dark ages.

– Judy Mendel

From TG: TG has experienced that very situation, but not in so drastic a form as to have required donuts. Still, it is annoying that the only notification to parkers about the small-bill requirement is at the very exit gate. 

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that this little duck ramp leading from the island to the water is a thoughtful addition to Dawes Park lagoon. An RT photographer spent a bit of time there recently, watching this duck near the ramp and wondering if it would take the plunge or the dry road.

… that the summer is fading. The last art festival was last weekend and there are only a few Starlight Concerts left, and a few more times to dance on Thursday evenings. Beach tokens are half-price now, and that’s a plus.

… or rather hopes, that the latest art project for the

Maple Avenue

garage will be more successful than the previous one. As you recall, the artist who promised us the first piece of art (a series of flower-petal- or football-shaped Plexiglas ovals, which would reflect the color of the sky) left us waiting for months, then finally traded us something he had on the shelf: the “Penelope” sculpture that now graces the southeast corner of Emerson and Ridge – waiting for her hero, perhaps, but becoming as vine-covered as a heroine from the Metamorphoses.