… that, just in time for school, and despite a mid-summer construction strike, work has finished on the street segments in front of Dawes Elementary School (Oakton at Dodge) and Evanston Township High School (1600 Dodge). Perhaps soon the Dodge Street corridor up to Emerson will be repaved, re-curbed where necessary and re-striped.

… that IDOT and the City have begun a new stage of the Sheridan Road project, this one from Burnham to Emerson. Stage 1 of the project began last week with the implementation of a southbound detour on Sheridan Road at Foster Street, following Foster to Sherman to Clark Street and reconnecting at Sheridan Road. Construction will be first on the east side of Sheridan from the intersection of Sheridan and Chicago south to Emerson. The City advises all motorists to take to heart the new laws about distracted driving (in fact, the City called them distracted driving laws but TG omits the possibly unintended sarcasm). At any rate motorists stay alert in work zones,  slow down, obey posted speed limits, refrain from texting while driving and use only hands-free devices if they wish to use a cell phone.  The project, says the City, will be completed in seven stages: installation of new storm sewer and drainage structures; reconstruction of portions of Sheridan Road; removal and replacement of curbs and gutters; patching; replacement of the asphalt surface from curb to curb along with selected sidewalk replacement and striping.

… that the Evanston Police Department was recently awarded second place in the Illinois Traffic Safety Challenge by the Illinois Chiefs of Police Association. One of EPD’s focuses of fostering safe streets is “by proactively educating the public and creatively enforcing traffic safety laws. Programs and initiatives such as child-safety-seat education, roadside safety checks, impaired-driving enforcement, public safety announcements, and teen DUI presentations have established Evanston as a state leader in traffic safety and accident prevention.” Underscoring the final point, the EPD plans to conduct a roadside safety check overnight Sept. 3-4 (10 p.m. – 6 a.m.) “in a high-volume traffic area within the City of Evanston.” So, even though you never should, don’t drink and drive on Sept. 3, and, even though you always should, remember to fasten your seat belt that evening.
… that Metra is adjusting its North Line train schedules to accommodate work on the north side of Chicago – a $185 million bridge and retaining-wall construction project. Metra reports that 22 bridges on the north side of Chicago will be replaced. The construction will be split into two phases: Phase 1 calls for 11 bridges to be replaced between Grace and Balmoral, and phase 2, for 11 more bridges between Fullerton and Cornelia to  be replaced. These bridges are more than 100 years old, according to Metra, and, after the project is completed, by the end of 2018, the new bridges “will offer increased passenger safety and will last for another 100 years.” Please note, says Metra, that “service at North Line stations will not be disrupted” but there will be adjustments to the train schedule, and riders are urged to view the new schedule at www.metrarail.com.

… that bike racks are returning to Central Street. Word from the City is that bike racks will be installed this fall along the Central Street Business District (the one by Green Bay, not the one further west) at the following locations: 1811 Central  St. (Karlson Kitchens); 1814 Central St. (Danon Gallery); 1900 Central St. (Chase Bank); 1921 Central St. (Prairie Joe’s); and  1943 Central St. (MilleFiori!).

… that the Princeton Review reports that town-gown relations here are on the upswing. “For the first time in years, the City of Evanston and Northwestern University have not made the top 20 list of strained university/community relations. Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl credits a new City Council, a new university president and a renewed commitment by both to make Evanston the jewel of the North Shore for residents and students alike.” Wait till they see our “Paint the Town Purple,” when all Evanstonians are asked to attend the NU/Central Michigan  football game.

… that the City is coordinating next year’s repairs for the following street segments – some of them carryovers from the 2007, 2009 and 2010 capital improvement  programs – with water-main replacements:  Ashland from Main to Lee; Brown from Cleveland to Washington; Church from Hinman to Sheridan Road; Clark from Ridge to Oak; Colfax Street from Poplar to Jackson; Dodge from Oakton to Lee; Grey from Brummel Street to the north end of the street; Hovland Court from Church to Emerson; Jackson from Colfax to Lincoln; Lake Shore Boulevard from Lee to Hamilton; Lee from Ashland to Asbury;  Oak from Church to Clark; and Pioneer from Colfax to Hartrey. Next year, folks, not this year. This is the fifth year of the City’s five-year street improvement plan, said Paul Schneider, director of transportation for the City. He also said that several of the street segments slated to be improved in the past five years had been omitted for various reasons but would likely be included in the succeeding five-year plan. He said most of the omitted repairs were in fact delays because of  other matters over which the City had no control – the redevelopment of the former Kendall College property, as an example. Evanston resident Carl Bova suggested that the City engage in long-term street-repair planning and consider using different materials for resurfacing – concrete instead of asphalt, for one thing. 

… that the city of Las Vegas is considering a ban on Hula Hoops in the Freemont Street Experience, a five-block pedestrian mall in downtown LV. The city fathers say the hula-hoopers there “obstruct traffic and cause public disruptions.”  Check out page 15 to see how they do it in a park in lovely old Evanston.

TG: The busy sidewalk along Sheridan Road across from Calvary Cemetery is usually kept in great condition, both summer and winter.  However, there is a large clump of willow toward the north end of that stretch that is blocking almost half of the sidewalk and still growing.  It has caused a problem for years; although in some years it has been cut back, this year it has been allowed to grow unabated, causing a dangerous situation for the very heavy sidewalk traffic consisting of cyclists, joggers, baby strollers and others. A lot of chicory has also been allowed to grow along that same stretch, although it has gradually gotten chewed up by the traffic, so doesn’t cause quite as large a problem.  But it has been puzzling why some vegetation has been allowed to grow unchecked although the rest has been trimmed several times this summer.  Is there any chance of getting this problem alleviated? Thanks.  – Sally Olds

From TG: Any sign of life around cemeteries can be unnerving, especially at Halloween. A crew from the City of Evanston was dispatched to check out the entire length of the walk and planned to cut back anything blocking the sidewalk.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that we all should be more vigilant now that school’s back in session: Kids may be crossing the streets with things other than safety on their minds. Further, it’s getting dark earlier and light later these days.

… that if Evanstonians are asked to shell out money to go see an NU football game in the “Paint the Town Purple” event, NU should reciprocate and ask its students, faculty and staff to paint the town blue and orange and go to an ETHS football game.

… that it would be nice to get a few more entries into the TG blues contest. TG is ending up singin’ the blues alone. Here’s another of TG’s efforts, written from the viewpoint of the City of Evanston: “Pensions are overdue and more streets should be new, but we’re busted. Needing payments we find that the state’s way behind – yes, we’re busted. Northwestern has said that they’ll give us no cash, and the taxes we get are all spent in a flash. Guess we’re not immune to the stock market crash, ’cause we’re busted.”