Cliff swallows' nests along the lakefront at NU.   Photo by Natalie Wainwright

… that construction began on three projects this week: resurfacing Church from Dodge to Ashland, installing the streetscape at Dodge and Lake and putting the finishing touches on the Sheridan Road signal project. Readers will doubtless remember the fabulous Lake/Dodge intersection, with its new plaza, new bus shelter, slanted retaining wall and rain garden. The City says it expects the work to be completed by mid-August, in time for the fall semester at ETHS.

The work on Church Street itself will include road work and a streetscape upgrade. Here’s what the City plans to do to the road itself: grind the asphalt and replace it, repair the base and put in new curbs and driveway aprons. For the streetscape, crews will replace tree grates and frames and replace the pavers with brick-bordered concrete squares. This work also includes the first phase of a protected bike lane along the south curb. The City says it plans to construct a protected bicycle path, or cycle track, “that will run along Church Street from the McCormick Boulevard bicycle path connecting to the Lakefront bicycle path.”

Residents and other parkers should be alert for “No Parking” signs, which will be posted 48 hours before the start of the work. The City says, “The construction activities will create some inconveniences for the abutting residents and businesses, but we will attempt to minimize these issues. The street sweeping and/or neighborhood parking restrictions will be waived for a one-block radius around the construction zone. Allowances have been made to maintain pedestrian access to businesses for the duration of construction.”

… that over on Sheridan Road, crews from the City and from IDOT will modernize five traffic signals between Central and Chicago, install the new one at Northwestern Place and connect and synchronize all six with fiberoptics. There will be LED lights, new pavement markings (TG is still holding out for colored crosswalks, and purple ones here would be a great way to start), pedestrian countdown signals, accessible pedestrian signals and pedestrian detectors. NU is paying for the new signal, which it wants for traffic control at the underground parking garage it plans to install east of Sheridan there. The completion date is projected to be Sept. 28.

… that, as many folks in northwest Evanston already know, there was a series of water main leaks and breaks last week – eight in all on the six-inch diameter pipe on the one on Central between Cowper and  Central Park. That one is cast iron, and was installed in 1924, according to the City. Closing off a valve for repair of the intial leak seemed to cause three others – called blowouts (when the main material is weak and internal pressure creates a blowhole in the main wall) – to arise. Service was disrupted in each case for fewer than three hours. But then there were more, created by a linear crack running the length of the water main. The City said, “This section of water main has experienced more frequent leaks and breaks over the past several years and was the top priority for replacement in 2013. The water mains currently being replaced in 2012 are generally the same age and had the same or more breaks as these sections of the Central Street water main.” Given that, the City says it plans to replace this water main before winter and is trying to get the paperwork into the IEPA – ASAP, because the IEPA folks usually need 90 days to review applications. 

… that the EPD (TG is fraught with initials)  has added a new “summer ticket” to its lineup.  The “Operation Chill” program of 7-Eleven stores rewards positive behavior with a chilled drink. Law enforcement officers can “ticket” youngsters caught in the act of doing good with Slurpee  beverage coupons, redeemable at participating 7-Eleven stores. Appropriate “actions” might include helping another person, deterring crime or participating in a positive activity in the community.

… that there was a ground-breaking last week for NU’s new $117 million lakefront Music and Communication Building and adjacent Arts Green. During the three years of construction, pedestrian and bike traffic will be blocked between the NU Sailing Club office and the south entrance to the lagoon in the lakefill, according to a sign posted there. Swallows have nested along the window ledge of one of the buildings there. Wonder if the construction will drive them away.

… that  this past May ranked as one of the top 10 warmest for eight of the nine states in the Midwest region with Minnesota being the lone state outside the top 10, based on preliminary temperature data. May was warmer than normal in all nine Midwest states, continuing the string of above normal months to open the year, according to the Midwestern Regional Climate Center at the Illinois State Water Survey.

… that, now that the Greenleaf viaduct seems safely ensconced, attention must be paid to Dempster Street. Weather permitting, Dempster will be closed between Sherman Avenue and Sherman Place for about five days, June 22- 26, while that viaduct is installed. During the construction period, eastbound Dempster Street traffic will be directed to northbound Maple Avenue then to eastbound Greenwood Street to reconnect with Dempster Street via southbound Chicago Avenue. Westbound Dempster Street traffic will be directed to northbound Chicago Avenue the to westbound Lake Street to reconnect with Dempster Street via southbound Oak Avenue. The City advises motorists to expect delays, obey the speed limit, observe closure signs and remain alert for workers.

… that the eyesore on Florence – the VRAD that was squeezed into a narrow parkway and sited below a bedroom window – is finally gone.

TG wishes the same relocation (sort of a VRAD-protection program – out of sight, out of mind) for all those public eyesores.

From our readers:

To the GREAT Traffic Guy: Thank you for asking because I have had a nominee for many months – ever since they reworked the lights at the west end of Central Street where it crosses Crawford and joins Gross Point Road and the two roads continue north into Wilmette. It was a tough set of intersections to plan and someone did a great job many years ago. But the high school drop-out that redid the current plan should try a different vocation. If you watch, lights change to go when the following light is still red for sometime. And some lights turn red when it would be logical for the flow of traffic to proceed!

I have the feeling they took out the controller to “improve the system” and did not keep what they had to put it back in the new controller, or simply gave it to someone who has no idea what should be done. Admittedly it is a very complex set of intersections. but the current result is a good example of how NOT to do a job.

But I really enjoy your articles and give my blessings to Charlie W. He does some thoughtful work.

–  A. Nonomous
(name actually provided)

The Traffic Guy thinks…

… that folks who drive their cars with radios or boom boxes turned up to earthquake-level (or 11 on the “Spinal Tap” amplifiers) should have those sound machines connected with their brakes
so that when the driver hits the brake
pedal the sound goes down as well.
This sounds like a good R & D project
for Detroit or Japan.

… Happy Fourth of July, everyone. Remember to wait until July 1 to put out those chairs to reserve a place to watch
the parade.