What all the best-dressed cars are wearing this season.

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… that, following the lead of Evanston and a couple of other Illinois municipalities, Governor Pat Quinn signed a law earlier this month prohibiting drivers on Illinois roads from using hand-held mobile phones and increasing penalties on any driver whose use of an electronic device causes an accident. Instead of being charged only with traffic violations, as is the current law, such drivers can be sentenced up to a year in prison if the accident causes “great bodily harm” or 1-3 years if there is a fatality – once the law takes effect, Jan. 1, 2014.

… that, speaking of traffic safety, the Evanston Police Department is gearing up for Labor Day by increasing traffic enforcement. Through Sept. 2, EPD will participate in the “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown on drunk drivers and seat-belt scofflaws. Here is part of the EPD’s advisory: “Evanston Police Department’s officers will be aggressively looking for drunk drivers during the crackdown and will arrest anyone caught driving drunk. In addition, seat belt law violators will be ticketed as a part of this campaign. … Research has shown that high-visibility enforcement like the ‘Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over’ campaign reduces drunk-driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.” In addition, the EPD says, “Zero tolerance will be shown for seat belt law violators – in the front and back seats.”

 … that the State of Illinois is going to invest in the Bridge Street bridge – $2.4 million for the rehab and related road-work. The plan is to widen the pedestrian area of the bridge, particularly so residents of Over the Rainbow Association can more easily maneuver their wheelchairs. This is part of Governor Quinn’s $31 billion Illinois Jobs Now! program, which will support more than 439,000 jobs over six years. A press release issued by the Governor’s Office says Illinois Jobs Now! is the largest capital construction program in Illinois history, and is one of the largest capital construction programs in the nation. Alderperson Jane Grover has said she thinks there should be a new name for the Bridge Street bridge, but TG thinks that one suffices.

… that the City will hire Greeley and Hansen of Chicago to conduct an “electrical study” (in fact, a study of the electrical components) of the water plant. The $73,000 cost covers an electrical short circuit analysis, protective device coordination analysis, arc flash hazard analysis, Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) battery preventive maintenance, switchgear inspection and maintenance, and a final project report. The study was recommended by the City’s insurer, FM Global. Once the recommendations are implemented, it seems, the City can implement “an arc flash hazard program that will enhance the existing electrical safety program, provide additional safety measures for our employees, and provide compliance with OSHA mandates.”

… that the Civic Center is getting four new high-definition cameras, a sub-compact remote camera controller, a sub-compact high-definition/standard definition live switcher with built-in multi-viewer (got that) and 14 new microphones. Just in time for budget season. Folks to participate in Citizen Comment at Council meetings may now feel like they have to dress up to speak up.

… that three new Tallmadge lights are coming to the west side of McDaniel between Crain and the cul-de-sac just south of Dempster by Harbert Park, TG’s favorite Evanston Park. At present only two lights are on the east side of the street there, so these new lights should contribute to safety in the area. 

… that, speaking of street lights, A. Lamp Concrete Contractors of Schaumburg will receive about $80,000 more for its work in Evanston. The new project includes increasing the wattage of existing lights and adding four Davit lights on Church just east of Darrow (#1), between Brown and Dodge (#2), at Pitner (#3), and at Hartrey (#4). The City is also considering adding wall-mounted lights on the viaduct walls east of Darrow by Mason Park. Oh no! Pedestrian bollard lights will also be installed on the north side of Church Street between Pitner and Hartrey by the football grounds, as requested by the high school.

… that the City will give Trader Joe’s a 70-year easement for $1,498 per year, so that its sewers and storm water can drain properly. The waste has
to travel under the the City’s section of the parking lot there. 

… that the City will apply to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources for a BAAD grant – that’s an acronym for Boat Access Area Development, not slang for “excellent!” The City would like to rehab the area around the Church Street Boat Ramp. Here are some of the problems already identified: The concrete ramp is “too short for launching due to low water levels, and the temporary ramp extension creates safety concerns”; the catwalk is “unstable and unsafe for use”; and “the south pier is deteriorated and potentially unstable.” So the City has to prove that it can cover all the costs by itself – it has committed $350,000 – and if the grant request is approved, the money – maximum $200,000 – will constitute reimbursement, not be extra.

… that, speaking of grant-seeking, the City will also apply for an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program (ITEP) grant for the Sheridan Road and Chicago Avenue bike paths. The Sheridan one would go from Chicago to Lincoln, and the Chicago (Avenue) one, from Sheridan to Church, as follows:  The 12-foot-wide sidewalk along Sheridan between Lincoln and Chicago (Avenue) (in front of NU) would be reduced to 8 feet, and a two-way, 8-foot-wide bike path would be constructed in the parkway. North of Lincoln, there will be a shared bike route to the north City Limits.

The Chicago Avenue part is to install a two-way bike path on the west parking lane of Chicago between Sheridan and Davis (at the Alice Millar curve), connecting NU to Downtown. To do this, the City will have to remove 52 parking spaces, 36 of which are metered. Nineteen metered spaces could be regained “on the east side [presumably of Chicago Avenue] between Sheridan and Clark. All but a part of the cost could be covered by the ITEP grant, if the City receives it; the remainder, according to the City, could come from TIF funds. Or, given the net loss of 17 metered spaces and the zeal of PEOs (parking enforcement officers), parking ticket
revenues could do the job.

ITEP is a pass-through agency of federal funds to local sources. Requests can be for as much as 80 percent of the cost of a project, in this case, perhaps about $1.5 million of the $1.9 million estimated cost.

… that yet another fast food is coming to the downtown area: Protein Bar plans to take over the space vacated by Lululemon Athletica when it defects to Old Orchard. The company plans to spend $700,000, mostly in construction and build-out.

… that the City granted a three-year extension for the last phase of the planned development at 1603-29 Orrington. Something about an economic downturn. …

… that last week gave us a seasonal blue moon – the third of four full moons this season, according to EarthSky.com. A season is defined as the period of time between a solstice and an equinox, or vice versa, and most seasons have  only three full moons. A seasonal blue moon comes only seven times in 19 calendar years.
According to popular definition, a blue moon is the second full moon in a calendar month – and these occur only seven
or eight times in 19 years. The Aug. 21 was a seasonal Blue Moon: the third of four this summer. 

From our readers:

TG: The former Bennigan’s is now Pete Miller’s.– Eric Felton

From TG: Right you are. Stop by the RoundTable and claim your bumper sticker.

The Traffic Guy thinks…

… that it’s crucial for drivers and cyclists to keep an eye out for pedestrians, particularly the little ones making their way to school for the first time.