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… that, through Jan. 4, the Illinois Department of Transportation and the Evanston Police Department supported enforcement to remind motorists to buckle up and not drive impaired, both day and night, during the merged Click It or Ticket/Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over mobilizations The EPD reports issuing citations or tickets for the following violations:
• 33 Seat belt related citations
• 1 DUI arrest
• 4 Suspended/revoked licenses
• 6 Uninsured motorists
• 8 Speeding citations
• 18 Distracted driving/cell phone citations
• 2 No valid driver’s license
• 2 Illegal transportation of open alcohol
• 1 Warrant arrest
• 11 Other traffic related citations
“Our officers are out all year long. If you or your passengers are caught not wearing a seat belt, day or night, you will be cited for the safety violation,” says Sgt. Tracy Williams, Traffic Bureau Supervisor.

… that the  Dar-us-Sunnah Masjid, 2045 Brown Ave., would like to complete the exterior renovations to the building, “including the construction of a new dome structure.”

… that it is not news that gas prices have fallen, resulting in a windfall for drivers but causing a bit of consternation across world markets. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at Gas Buddy, reports that, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 gas outlets in Chicago, the average retail gasoline prices in the Chicago area fell 12.7 cents per gallon in the first week of January. Those prices were “125.4 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago and are 65.6 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has decreased 52.8 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 112.7 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago,” according to GasBuddy. Mr. DeHaan predicts, “2015 will be a far better year at the pump than what we saw in 2014, and motorists will fare substantially better, shelling out $96 billion less this year at the gas pump with motorists in most states seeing far more $2 gas than $3 gas.” Prices for diesel fuel are falling less precipitously, declining an average of 44 cents per gallon in the last few weeks. Mr. DeHann says he sees diesel prices “declining another 35-50 cents a gallon nationally over the next month or so.”

… that another thing that is not news is that it is cold. Below left is a picture of the lakefront at the beginning of last week’s cold spell.
And at right is another of one of Evanston’s beautiful Tallmadge streetlights at the onset of the season’s first snowfall.
State climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey at University of Illinois reports that the statewide average temperature for 2014 was 49.4 degrees F, which is 2.9 degrees below average.  The year was tied with 1912 and 1979 for fourth place. The coldest year on record since 1895 was 1917, with an average of 48.3 degrees F. “Although 2014 was a cold year for Illinois, the effect was largely confined to the Midwest and was not global and it does not reflect the long-term temperature trend in Illinois,” Dr. Angel said.
 In December, the statewide average temperature in Illinois was 33.4 degrees, 3.5 degrees above average and the 29th warmest December on record. This follows a very cold November that was 8.2 degrees below average. So let’s see what the rest of January will bring.

… that the planet swept to perihelion – the closest point to the sun – this year on Jan. 4.

From our readers: TG: I have had drivers at the Howard Jewel nearly hit me twice because of poor signage at the central intersection in the Jewel parking lot. There is a two-way stop just as you turn off Howard Street to enter the parking lot. If you are heading east towards that two-way stop, you see signage that states, “Traffic from the left does not stop.”
Because it is a two-way stop, traffic does not stop from either the left or the right. People have nearly hit my car twice at that intersection because they believe that traffic from Howard will come to a stop.
I have complained to the managers at Jewel not just once but twice concerning this issue. The first time I raised the issue, I was informed that the City owned the stop sign and that they could do nothing about it. I called the City and was informed that the stop sign belongs to Jewel and that they can do nothing about it. I returned to Jewel and informed them of my conversation with the City. I spoke with the manager, Carl Carlson, who said repeatedly that people blow stop signs all the time and that he had nearly been hit several times for that reason. I told him several times that it was an issue of poor signage, not people blowing stop signs.
Since our conversation, Jewel has replaced the signage with a larger sign that says exactly the same thing as the old sign. They seem to be clueless that their signage is likely to cause an accident. Perhaps the Evanston RoundTable can bring them to their senses. I certainly hope so.
— Lucy Elam

From TG: You have pointed out the problem really well, Ms. Elam. TG doubts that the RT can do any better but will elaborate on your concern. Here is a photo of the sign you describe. The sign does indeed point out that traffic from the parking lot does not stop but does not indicate anything about traffic coming from Howard Street. A driver who looks closely could see that there is no stop sign for traffic coming from Howard Street, but that driver’s time might be better spent looking for traffic than looking for stop signs on different roads. Farther east on that same parking-lot artery, there is another stop sign, this one without even the advisory that traffic from the left does not stop. It does seem that the shopping center could spring for either a) an addition or correction to those signs, advising motorists that traffic from left and right does not stop or b) an additional stop sign for traffic coming up to the shopping center from Howard.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that, given the recent attention to the Public Trust doctrine – which preserves the lakefront for the people of Illinois – it seems we Evanstonians failed when it came to challenging the construction of Northwestern’s behemoth (visitor center/parking lot) at the lakefront. Candidly, though, the challenge should have come 50-some years ago, when the State, in opposition to this doctrine, sold NU the public lake-bottom land for its private use. Chances are no court would undo the damage now, given what is already built there, but there is a lesson in vigilance, and the current lakefront protection group is on the right track. 

… that City crews did a great job of cleaning the streets after the first snowfall of the year – despite the 20-below-zero windchills. Stay warm, everyone, either by staying home or going to one of the City’s warming shelters – most public buildings during the day. Check on the frail and the elderly, and we will all make it through the winter.