Gnawty or nice? Freshly chewed trees in the Ladd Arboretum reveal the presence of beavers in the North Shore Channel. Folks at the Ecology Center are glad to have them back. Photo by Mary Mumbrue

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… that the new Evanston bicycle route and parking map is available at the Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave. The new map identifies the City’s riding routes and provides a guide to finding secure bicycle parking throughout Evanston. The City says its bike racks can accommodate more than 900 bicycles.

… that the City has received about $350,000 in funds to improve the safety of children walking to school. The City received $249,862 of the $250,000 maximum possible for infrastructure improvements and $98,550 of $100,000 maximum available for education, both funded under the Safe Routes to School program. About half of the infrastructure monies will go for sidewalk improvement and half for bump-outs (curb extensions into the street, to reduce the distance to cross).

Projects in the Ninth Ward will include a bump-out on the north side of Oakton at Barton, adjacent to Oakton School, and bump-outs on both the north and south sides of Oakton at Wesley, in front of Chute Middle School. In the Seventh Ward, bump-outs at Prairie and Lincoln were part of the application, as were sidewalk improvements for students walking to Kingsley and Haven schools.

School District 65 has said it will try to motivate students to walk or bike to school. Safe Routes to School aims to make biking and walking to school safer and more appealing than being dropped off by parents and to “facilitate the planning, development, and implementation of projects and activities that will improve safety and reduce traffic, fuel consumption, and air pollution in the vicinity of schools.” 

… that, speaking of reducing traffic and fuel consumption, the CTA has added a fourth option to its proposed Red Line/Purple Line upgrades: “Modernization Without Consolidation.” The other three are “No Action” (maintaining the status quo), “Basic Rehabilitation,” and “Modernization.”

Readers are doubtless aware that some of the tracks and grades are so degraded, that the el trains must slow down on them. Many of the tracks and lines are a century or more old. With a basic rehab, the CTA says, the life of some of these tracks could be extended a decade or two, which would improve the safety and speed of the trains. The “Modernization Plan,” readers probably recall, would entail closing the Foster Street and South Boulevard stops but would rehab stations, make tracks and riding safer and would extend the shelf life by about four decades. A wider platform at Noyes would lessen the walk for Foster Street riders, according to the CTA.  On the (probably) plus side, the Loyola stop would have a transfer to the Purple Line in all but the “no action” plans. The “without consolidation” plan would include the rehab but not the station closings. Stay tuned. The cost could be about $4 billion.

… that beavers have returned to the North Shore Channel – the canal, to less formal users and readers. Folks at the Ecology Center have seen some freshly gnawed trees, indicating that beavers are back.

… that the City’s cost of disposal fees to the Solid Waste Agency of Cook County (SWANCC) is upwards of a million dollars. City Council recently approved $83,300 for capital costs, $1 million for operations and maintenance and $40,000 in recycling-transfer fees.

… that Unity Nursery School will open a child daycare center at 829 Foster St.

… that a pizza-and-Italian-ice restaurant, Ice and a Slice, will open at 914½ Noyes St.

… that the City may amend the Downtown I (Washington National) tax-increment financing (TIF) district and has hired consultant Kane McKenna to work on the project. Readers doubtless know the City is salivating for a performing arts center, and possibly a performing arts district, downtown.

… that the American Public Works Association recently honored Suzette Robinson, the City’s public works director, with the 2012 Charles Walter Nichols Award for Environmental Excellence for the department’s Thinking G.R.E.E.N. (Greater Recycling in Every Evanston Neighborhood) program. Robert Pompey, an equipment operator at the City, also received the Award of Merit.

… that again this year, representatives from the City, Northwestern, local businesses, other organizations and everyone else is invited to Evanston Day in Springfield to hobnob with legislators, power brokers and other politicians. The idea is to let them know that we’re here and we’re important. Interested folks can check the City’s website, cityofevanston.org, for more information.

From our Readers: TG: Here is the cheapest solution to the problem at Custer Avenue and Main Street: Install a convex mirror on the viaduct, angled to reflect westward on Main Street, so you can see oncoming traffic before pulling out. In some countries these are all over the place, and they really help. Cheaper than losing a parking space, which would get filled illegally often anyway.

– Michael Moran

From TG: Thanks, Mr. Moran.

The Traffic Guy Thinks …

… that “Modernization Without Consolidation” seems to be the CTA’s best offer. Apparently that was added after and because of citizen input. While the Noyes platform extension could ameliorate some of the annoyance of the closing of the Foster Street station, that cannot necessarily be said for the closing of the South Boulevard station. Access to St. Francis Hospital is very important, not just for workers, but for patients of the hospital. Right now, the walk to the hospital is about four blocks. Frail, sick and infirm people should not have to walk so far to their hospital. 

… that even though Valentine’s Day is past, chocolate can still be on the mind. Food Network Magazine noted that the Long Grove Confectionary Co. has a “2,500-pound chocolate Statute of Liberty [that] greets you in the lobby, a 500-pound chocolate Santa sits in the theater and the hallways are lined with art.” Apparently the Bellagio in Las Vegas has a 2-ton chocolate fountain. TG particularly appreciates Charles Dickens, on the 200th anniversary of his birth: “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”