Possible New Entrance to the Service Center: the Colossus of Roads. Concept by TG; drawing by Natalie Wainwright.

… that the City’s free holiday parking in downtown garages begins tomorrow: Sherman Plaza, Maple Avenue, Church Street and Lot 60 at 1234 Chicago Ave. The program runs through Jan. 2. Here’s when the parking is free: weekdays 5 p.m. to midnight and all day on Saturdays (Sundays are always free). This is to attract folks to the downtown area to shop, dine and otherwise hobnob. Remember, though, that the “first-hour free” is not really the case: It’s up to one hour free; folks who park, for example, for 62 minutes must pay for two hours. Kind of counterproductive: it rewards people for not sticking around.

… that, beginning New Year’s Day, everyone in a car or other motor vehicle will have to wear a safety belt. The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety says Illinois has a 92.9 percent daytime safety belt usage rate.  During last year’s Thanksgiving holiday period, 15 vehicle occupants died in motor-vehicle-traffic crashes; nine of those deaths involved a driver who had been drinking and more than 700 were injured.  National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics show that those least likely to buckle up are teens, young adults, males, motorists traveling on rural roads and individuals traveling in pickup trucks, especially during the late-night hours. Data show late-night hours are when the highest percentage of motorists die in alcohol-involved crashes and the lowest percentage of vehicle occupants are properly restrained. If this is not clear enough, there is more information about the Click It or Ticket and the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaigns at www.buckleupillinois.org.

… that the Sign Board has recommended a few changes to the City’s sign ordinance, which could allow signs to proliferate throughout the City: increasing the allowable limits of some signs, including small “blade” (those perpendicular to the building wall) signs as a permitted type and revising the standards from which variations will be judged.

… that the City is contracting with Christopher Burke Engineering, Ltd., of Rosemont to provide inventory of traffic signs, street lights, and traffic signals, provide retro-reflectivity assessment of traffic signs and a management plan to replace the traffic signs that do not meet minimum retro-reflectivity standards as required by the Federal Highway Administration. This is an unfunded federal mandate and will cost Evanston taxpayers $96,000.

… that the City has contracted out its snow-towing operations for this year to six different companies. That means they think a) winter is coming and b) ignorance (willful or not) of City snow parking regulations will continue. Here’s the City procedure, from the top, describing the different reasons for cars to be ticketed
or towed or both: “The City utilizes independent towing contractors to assist with towing operations during declared snow emergencies to relocate or impound vehicles at the direction of the Evanston Police Department and to provide towing assistance to City-owned and operated, as well as contractor, equipment engaged in various aspects of the snow-removal operations. The City of Evanston tickets as well as tows during snow events.” Ticket fees are $50 during snow-route parking bans and $100 during snow emergencies.

North Shore towing, used for overnight-tow operations, receives its contracted tow fee and storage charges for each vehicle towed. The City does not receive a percentage of the tow but does receive ticket revenue, based on $50/ ticket. Last snow season, Dec. 1- March 31, 348 citations were issued. Snow-emergency towing, when vehicles are towed until snow is cleared from the road and then returned to their parking places, is also contracted out. The City receives revenue from the parking citations ($100 per) but does not charge an additional tow fee. Last snow season, 276 citations were issued.

Snow Emergency citations, when the vehicle is ticketed but not towed, are issued by the City’s Parking Services staff. These citations are $35 each, and last season City staff issued 20 citations.

The Traffic Guy Thinks …

… that, even though residents may feel they are being nit-picked by City Council fees, there are ever so many things the City Council could have taxed: child car seats, bicycle  seats, car antennas, shoelaces, yak trax, roller blades, cross-country skis and hockey sticks, for example.

… that, since the City is considering having two salt domes now – a new, larger one in the same location at the City’s service center and one elsewhere – Pictured are some ideas about how the revamped salt dome could look.

… that, given that this holiday has TG’s initials, TG would like to nominate a few traffic turkeys: drivers who do not stop for pedestrians in cross-walks, bicyclists who ignore stop signs and lights, residents who don’t clear their sidewalks, drivers who are third in line (or further back) at a stoplight and start honking anyway; and the intersections at Golf and McDaniel and at Greenleaf and Dodge.

Happy TG day, everyone.