Sinkhole – or entrance to the nether world?RoundTable photo

… that, through April 5, the City will be rehabbing 1,400 feet of 48-inch-diameter combined sewer mains  on (well, really “under”) Davis between Oak and Sherman, a continuance of its “larger project to improve the reliability of the combined sewer system in several areas.” Watch for a closing of the center lane and a dearth of metered parking spaces there.

The work will involve four separate phases: Phases 1 and 2 will occur between Oak and Elmwood, Phase 3 will occur between Elmwood and Benson and Phase 4 will occur between Benson and Sherman. Funding for the project comes from two sources, according to the City: from a low-interest IEPA (Illinois Environmental Protection Agency) loan and from the Washington National tax-increment financing (TIF) district, allowing the City to “complete the project without raising sewer rates.”

Occupants of the buildings in that area are asked to limit water usage while the work is directly in front of the building. Residents maybe familiar with the pungent odor of styrene from the resin used to reline the pipes. The City says the styrene from these pipes “is not dangerous at the levels at which people can detect it.” The City suggests the following: “To help prevent the smell from occurring in your building, pour a gallon of water into each basement floor drain. This keeps the trap full and prevents sewer gases from coming into your building. Because the water in the drain trap evaporates, this practice should be done regularly.”

… speaking of closures, TG hears that some street segments in northwest Evanston (parts of Isabella, Lincolnwood and Hurd) were slated to be closed earlier this week as  Evanston and Wilmette completed the Isabella Street Relief Sewer and Road Improvement Project.

… that the police department nabbed a few scofflaws over the St. Patrick’s Day weekend. With the theme “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over,” EPD officers issued 120 citations and made four DUI arrests during the period of March 14-17, which also marked the close of Brain Awareness Week, March 11-17 this year. Other citations were issued for not wearing a seat belt (56), reckless driving (1), driving with a suspended license (3), driving while talking on a hand-held cell phone (11), speeding (13) and driving without having insurance (9). Twenty- three other citations were classified as “miscellaneous.” There were no reported crashes involving death or serious injury here in that four-day period, according to the police.

… that Evanston had a touch of sinkhole near Main and Chicago. Most likely winter erosion (ice, melting, expansion, contraction) created its own little pothole but something got worn away down to the pipes. A sawhorse alerted pedestrians who might have wanted to wander up the alley there, and now the City has covered the hole with a large metal plate. The folks who took this photo wrote, “It looked like some tar and gravel had been thrown over the hole previously.” TG would be glad to hear more about this.

… that two lanes of Davis between Chicago and Orrington (just to the alley, really) were closed Tuesday so some mechanicals could be installed on the roof at 614 Davis. And speaking of projects, the Sienna project on Ridge, Church and Oak is nearing completion, and both that one and the project on Central where the movie theaters used to be are hulking very close to the sidewalks.

… that, speaking of streets, it’s almost that time again: Street-sweeping begins in a few days (April 1) and lasts till Nov. 29. As with snow-parking regulations, TG urges residents to pay attention to the nearest sign. If the sign prohibits parking between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. and the streets are clean and swept by 10, who’s going to get a ticket or maybe a tow for parking there at noon? You know who. The City says the 2013 schedule and rules (sounds like a game) will be in the mail to residents shortly. The City also wishes to remind residents that “raking debris into the streets is illegal. Violators will be fined.” All this information and a great deal more can be found at

… that just west of here, the Village of Skokie says a bike path along Old Orchard Road from the border of Evanston is part of its master Bicycle Facilities Plan. Information provided to a RT reader from the Village of Skokie said the bike path, currently in the planning stage, will run from Gross Point Road west to Skokie Boulevard. The project, currently in the Phase 1 design process, will be located on the south side of Old Orchard Road just north of Memorial Park Cemetery. The information states, “Construction of the path is expected to occur in 2014 after the Phase 2 engineering design is completed and necessary land acquisition takes place at the Old Orchard Road/Skokie Boulevard intersection.”

The report also notes “several challenges” to the east and west extensions: “East of Gross Point Road, the roadway width is inadequate to provide a bike path and Evanston does not have a dedicated bike path, although they may have a bike route on local streets. West of Skokie Boulevard there is also a problem of roadway widths, bridge width over the Eden’s Expressway, and utilizing Forest Preserve/County land west of Woods Drive to access Harms Wood.”

… that the City has approved a larger size for the end signs of scoreboards for NU’s tennis courts along Sheridan Road. Council originally approved 3.8 feet by 4.5 feet for end signs; now they will be 3.8 feet by 10 feet, “matching the full height of the scoreboard face.” Now, the City says, “the entire back of the structure can be screened with the lattice structure and mature landscaping,” and the new signs “should not increase the view of the scoreboard from Sheridan Road.”

From our readers:
Here is some information from Wikipedia about a famous Evanstonian named Evans: “Bergen Baldwin Evans (Sept. 19, 1904 – Feb. 4, 1978) was an American lexicographer, a Rhodes Scholar, a Harvard College grad-uate, a Northwestern University professor of English, and a television host. Evans became known as the question supervisor, or “authority,” for the television series “$64,000 Question.” His books include “Word-A-Day Vocabulary Builder” (1963), and the annotated “Dictionary of Quotations” (1993). … Evans was a proponent of skepticism. He penned two works in the field, The ‘Natural History of Nonsense’ (1946) and ‘The Spoor of Spooks and Other Nonsense’ (1954).” Note this guy was a proponent of skepticism. Also he was a Northwestern Professor.   – Daniel Joseph

From TG: Well, as a proponent of skepticism, Dr. Evans was probably the true spiritual father of Evanston. Unfortunately, City Council has pre-empted your proposal (see page 14, 🙂 ) so we have to wait another 361 days to bring it up again.

TG: It took me a long time, but I finally figured out what you mean by parking restrictions going into effect for half-hour parking only on Harrison west of Green Bay: You mean on the 1900 block in front of the EPCO business, but not on our residential street one short block west. Now, even more customers and employees will use our “free parking lot,” on the 2000 block of Harrison Street. One summer, years ago, I stood on the corner of Prairie and Harrison and collected over 150 signatures from neighbors who wished to further restrict non-residential parking from the meager 7-9 a.m. time slot. After the City hired an outside consultant at a high-five-figure salary, and after she stipulated, in writing, that since we in the Harrison/Prairie corridor are bending over backwards to accommodate non-residential parking, things should just remain as they are and so they have. We seem to be the only Evanston residential area near a business district that does not have two-hour parking restrictions.
I wonder why?  – Deborah Hirshfield

From TG: Parking Manager Rick Voss responded to your inquiry: “Simply put, the ordinance amendment changed the time that the existing 30-minute parking restriction was in place from 9 a.m.- 6 p.m. to the new 7 a.m. – 6 p.m. and only from Green Bay Road west to the first north/south alley, south side of the street.”

TG: In your response to Allie Payne (March 14 RoundTable you enumerated many fines and fees Evanston can collect – but you omitted one very important one: the fine for failing to clear snow and ice from sidewalks.

As a frequent pedestrian, I struggle to navigate the same sections of walk left untended from storm to storm, year after year. A few $75 tickets might prod an owner to get out there (or decide it’s more economical to hire someone to clear the walk) than pay the City fines. And a few extra bucks could be of use to the City,
too.   – Michael Levine

From TG: Right you are, Mr. Levine. Not clearing ice and snow from public sidewalks is dangerous and discourteous to pedestrians and virtually inexcusable. TG envisions a knock on the door and a peace officer, citation book in one hand and snow shovel in the other …

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that spring is here. Snowdrops are in bloom, crocuses and early daffodils are pushing up through the cracked soil and some herbs that didn’t really go dormant this winter. March’s leonine qualities have certainly been in the forefront as it prepares to exit.

… that there has been a lot of buzz in the RT offices about portmanteau words – words that combine two thoughts or word parts into one. Here’s a contribution from Natalie Wainwright about the Cubs: They’re “pathletic.”