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… that speeders within school safety zones may be fined between $500 and $750 per violation. The speed limit in school zones is 20 miles per hour between 7 a.m. and 4 p.m. There must be signs alerting motorists to the fact that they are within the school safety zones. Speaking of school safety, the City may hold a “School Safety Public Service Announcement Contest” for primary- and middle-school students. The contest, according to the City, “will ask students to develop a 30-second radio or television announcement” on one of the following topics: school speed zones and their importance to student safety; stranger danger; drugs/alcohol awareness; safe routes to school; bike safety to school. Younger students may create posters, while the other students can do the audio/visual PSAs. If all goes well, the winners will be announced at the Feb. 22 City Council meeting.

… that someone has been defacing signs for certain 18th District Democratic candidates. Last TG heard, it was only the Irish signs that were attacked. Where’s St. Paddy when we need him?

… that, starting Feb. 7, service changes and reductions will affect most CTA bus and train routes. Hours and days of service on the Red, Orange, Green, Blue, Purple, Pink and Brown lines will remain unchanged, but service will be less frequent. In Chicago, nine express bus routes will be eliminated, 39 routes will have revised schedules, and more than 100 will have less service. Visit transitchicago.com for full information on all these changes. The CTA says the reductions “were designed to retain as much service as possible while reducing costs and maximizing efficiency. The only route eliminations are nine express routes that have corresponding local service. All parts of the region that have CTA service will continue to have it. Savings will be realized through less frequent service and service that might start later in the morning or end earlier at night.”

… that the City may pursue private sponsorships of the City’s bus shelters. For the price of installation and equipment, a company can get some sort of recognition. One hopes that such recognition will be tasteful and the remuneration to the City plentiful – seems the City should charge more than just the cost for these advertisements.

… that the Clearwire LLC will replace the antenna pole atop Fire Station #5 with a new one. Clearwire will pay $2,000 per month, and the City will credit the company $1,000 per month to offset the construction costs of the new tower/antenna pole, about $200,000.

The City will own the antenna (aka cell-phone tower) once the lease expires. 

… that Christmas tree recycling was off to an erratic start, but City crews seem to have caught up. 

… that the 1800 Club has closed its doors – a few weeks earlier than expected – giving NU total (or nearly so) control of that building that used to generate a lot of property tax revenues for the City.

… that at the a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the  new Shell gas station at 2494 Oakton St. last week, owner Minhaz Lakhani, made a $5,000 donation to the City, giving $2,500 to the police and the firefighters pension funds. Now that’s an example of a  good citizen and a good neighbor.

… that today is the annual Winter Bike to Work Day, sponsored by the Active Transportation Alliance. Jan. 20, 1985, is the coldest day in Chicago history, when the official temperature at O’Hare International Airport was negative 27 degrees with 36 mile-per-hour wind gusts, producing wind chills as low as 93 degrees below zero. 

… that, speaking of cold and snow, the City’s snow-response mechanisms are working pretty well. City crews had most of the streets cleared from the Jan. 7-8 snowfall by end-of-day on the 8th.

… that City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz was late to the most recent Rules Committee meeting. Seems a former alderman was having trouble getting his vehicle stickers (he had not brought the right paperwork) and summoned the City Manager to make it right. One of the aldermen at the meeting said the former alderman had done the same thing last year.

… that last year Illinois had the fourth-wettest year on record. Jim Angel, the state climatologist of the Illinois State Water Survey, reports that, based on preliminary data in Illinois, the statewide average precipitation for 2009 was 50.3 inches, 11 inches above normal. This was the fourth-wettest year on record for the state based on data going back to 1895. The wettest year on record was 1993 with 51.2 inches, followed closely by 2008 with 50.5 inches, and 1990 with 50.4 inches. The normal statewide annual precipitation in Illinois is 39.2 inches, Mr. Angel reports. For December, the statewide precipitation was 4.1 inches, 1.4 inches above normal, and the statewide average temperature then was 28.9 degrees, 1.0 degree below normal. As a result, the annual temperature for 2009 was 51.2 degrees, 0.8 degrees below normal. The outstanding colder-than-normal months in 2009 were January, July, August and October. January was 4.2 degrees below normal, July was 5.2 degrees below normal, August was 2.6 degrees below normal, and October was 4.4 degrees below normal.

“So the cold, wet December finishes out a cold, wet year in Illinois. The outstanding feature is the two back-to-back exceptionally wet years. Together they account for 100.8 inches of precipitation. That is an extra 22.4 inches of precipitation over the two-year period,” Mr. Angel concludes.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

…  Happy winter, everybody – at least we have seasons!