The Traffic Guy hears …

… that the CTA is holding three “Public Scoping” meetings about its upcoming modernization of the Red and Purple lines, subject to the availability of funding.

The CTA says these improvements are “proposed in order to bring the existing transit stations, track systems and structures into a state of good repair, from the track structure immediately north of Belmont station to the Linden terminal (9.5 miles). This project is one part of CTA’s effort to extend and enhance the entire Red Line.”

  1. The Evanston meeting will be held 6-8:30 p.m. on Jan. 27 at Fleetwood-Jourdain Community Center, 1655 Foster St. Earlier meetings will be held as follows: 6-8:30 p.m. on Jan. 24 at St. Augustine College, 1345 W. Argyle St., Chicago;   6-8:30 p.m. on Jan. 25 at Senn High School, 5900 N. Glenwood Ave., Chicago; 6-8:30 p.m. on Jan. 26 at New Field Primary School, 1707 W. Morse, Chicago. Those who cannot attend are invited to submit written comments to Steve Hands: snail mail: Strategic Planning & Policy Chicago Transit Authority, P.O. Box 7602, Chicago, IL 60680-7602;

e-mail: RPM@transitchicago.com; fax: 312-681-4195. Comments will be accepted until Feb. 18.

… that the United States Post Office – and locally, our mail carriers – would really appreciate it if sidewalks, stairs and mailboxes were cleared of snow and ice. “Snow and ice in front of mailboxes make delivery dangerous,” says Sean Hargadon, Postal Service spokesperson for Northern Illinois District.  “Maintaining a clear path to the mail box – including steps, porches, walkways and street approach – will help letter carriers maintain consistent delivery service.” So right now you are probably asking yourself, “What about that ‘rain nor snow’ thing?” Infoplease.com reports thus: “‘Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.’ This is commonly misidentified as the creed of our mail carriers, but actually it is just the inscription found on the General Post Office in New York City at 8th Avenue and 33rd Street.” So no one is violating any creeds by making it easier for our mail carriers to slog on through.

… that the City plans to eliminate the Board of Examiners of Stationary

Engineers, Boiler or Water Tenders, which was established decades ago to  license said professionals.” The Board has been “inactive and unstaffed for years,” according to the City, and Council has not amended those code provisions “since adopting the 1957 City Code.”

… that the City will apply for federal assistance to replace a couple of vehicles its fleet. As represented by our aldermen, we’d like to replace our old, 1995-era, motor grader with a new, 2010-era, one powered by a “certified diesel engine that meets EPA diesel emission guidelines.” We also would purchase a hybrid refuse/recycling truck “with reduced diesel emissions and diesel fuel usage.”

… that we’re getting the next load of water-treatment chemicals – a 10-month (until December) extension of the contract. We use five different chemicals to treat our water, the City says. Here, according to the City, are the four chemicals we’ll be purchasing now and what we use them for: Chlorine is used as a disinfectant, alum and polymer are used as coagulants, HFS acid (fluoride) is added to help prevent tooth decay, and a blended phosphate is added to coat the interior of pipes to prevent lead and copper from the pipes leaching into the water. Powdered activated carbon (PAC) is used on occasion to adsorb unpleasant taste and/or odors. The fifth chemical, alum, has to be purchased separately, as the supplier did not wish to extend its existing contract with the City.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

That, back to winter, as long as people are charged with keeping sidewalks and driveways safe and cleared, it would be nice to dig out those fire hydrants from snowbanks.

… that the grassland at Chicago and Main, and the wall of the building just south of it would be a great outdoor movie venue.

… that, speaking of culture, since the big hill at James Park is basically closed to sports and recreation, maybe it’s time to turn our thoughts to entertainment there. Most of us have enjoyed a Starlight Concert or two at the base of the hill, but why not turn the whole thing into an amphitheatre? Seating could be dug into the hill, to make a Greek theatre space. We have so many smart people at NU, some of them could help with the acoustics, so folks could hear like at Epidaurus. Stone seats would need little protection in winter, and they could be coated with an anti-graffiti substance. Imagine outdoor plays in the summer by Piccolo, Next, Piven and Fleetwood-Jourdain; better stages for Starlight Concerts. Imagine paying admission – hiring kids as ushers and ticket-takers.  The place would probably have to be covered – TG thinks solar panels or geothermal heat and lots of glass. So we can call it the Hot House or the Green House.