… that construction to reconfigure the Emerson Street/Ridge Avenue/Green Bay Road intersection is one of the most complex road projects undertaken by the City, and it should simplify navigating through that part of town. Sat Nagar, the City’s senior project manager, provided the drawing of the new configuration reproduced on this page. A big change is there will be two lanes for traffic on each road as it comes to an intersection, and in each case there is one lane for through traffic and one lane for either a left turn, or in some cases, a right turn.

… that the times payments are due for Evanston’s Wheel Tax are modified. The date to pay the annual wheel tax will be Dec. 31 of each year. Also, people moving into Evanston will have 30 days to pay the tax.

… that City Council approved granting 1571 Maple Avenue, LLC an easement to place concrete caissons to serve as structural support for a mixed-use 12-story, 101 unit building at 1571 Maple. Ave. The caissons will be below the surface of the City’s right-of-way property on the south side of Davis and the west side of Elmwood. The lower portions of four caissons will extend approximately two feet beyond the site’s property line at a depth of 76 feet. The City gets $1,200 for a 50-year easement, which is renewable.    

… that another developer convinced the City to waive its requirement to provide parking spaces under what is fast becoming the “Transit Oriented Development exception.” The developer is rehabbing a seven-story building at 860 Hinman Ave., which currently has commercial space on the ground floor and 58 dwelling units and 44 rooming units. The rooming units do not have kitchens and are therefore not considered “dwelling units” under the zoning code. The developer plans to add small kitchens, though, thus converting them to dwelling units under the code, and triggering the need for 55 more parking spaces. The developer asked that it be allowed to forgo adding any parking spaces because there is no room to do so, and because the building will not house any more people, and because the building is near to public transportation on the CTA and Metra trains that fewer people will own cars.

… that City Council held up a proposed zoning change that would permit the  sale or rental of motor vehicles or recreation vehicles only in the City’s I2 Zoning District. The proposal, however, would not impact existing businesses, or car rental businesses that do not have cars on their location.  Car sales are currently permitted uses in the C2 Zoning District and car rentals are generally permitted in districts permitting retail service establishments. The C2 District is concentrated along busy arterial roadways, excluding Howard Street. There are pockets of C2 districts along Chicago Avenue, Green Bay Road, Dempster Street and Ridge Avenue near Emerson Street. The I2 district is concentrated in the west Evanston industrial area and south of Oakton Street. Council may take it up on Feb. 8.

… During the week of Jan. 11, the average retail gasoline prices in Chicago fell 11.5 cents per gallon, averaging $2.00 per gallon on Jan. 18, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 gas outlets in Chicago. Prices on Jan. 18 were 18.0 cents per gallon lower than the same day one year ago. The national average decreased to $1.90 per gallon on Jan. 18. “The continued and unprecedented plunge in the price of crude oil has continued, allowing gasoline prices in virtually the entire U.S. to continue plummeting,” said Patrick DeHaan, GasBuddy senior petroleum analyst. Mr. DeHaan predicts that the national average is likely to fall into the $1.70s.  

 …  that Northwestern University is planning to build a new seven-story residence hall at 560 Lincoln Ave., in the U3 University Lakefront Campus District.

… that one of the astronomers whose findings resulted in having Pluto demoted as a planet has joined with another astronomer in reporting “solid theoretical evidence” that there is a giant planet in the solar system way beyond Pluto. At its most distant point, Pluto is 4.6 billion miles from the sun. The potential ninth planet, at its closest, would be about 20 billion miles away; and at the farthest point in its elliptical orbit, it could be 100 billion miles away. One trip around the sun would take 10,000 to 20,000 years. While the astronomers say they “are pretty sure there’s one out there,” they have not actually found it. What they have found is that six small distant bodies are traveling in orbits that are explainable only if they are being pulled by a planet with a mass about 10 times that of Earth. Mike Brown, one of the astronomers, said his daughter had told him she would forgive him about Pluto if he found another planet.

… that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security has granted a reprieve to Illinois residents and will accept Illinois drivers’ licenses as an acceptable ID to pass through security at airports for two more years. In 2005 Congress passed the Real ID Act that requires all states to meet certain requirements when issuing an ID. Illinois has not yet met the requirements, maybe because it has no money. Absent the reprieve, Illinois residents would have needed a passport or some other acceptable ID to pass through security at airports.

…. that the Evanston Police Department is warning residents that scammers, pretending that they work for ComEd, are contacting business and residential customers by phone or in person and demanding immediate payment by prepaid credit card or wire transfer of amounts allegedly past due. They threaten to cut off electrical service if the payment is not made. ComEd customers should call ComEd and ask about the status of their account or check the status of their account online.

… that in some Evanston neighborhoods, ComEd is installing Smart Meters to replace the dumb old ones. There is an interruption of electrical service for only a few seconds, but that may be long enough to require that all digital clocks be reset.

… that the world had its hottest year on record in 2015. Before that the hottest year on record was 2014.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that while the City is putting up spiffy new “No Parking” signs around town, maybe it should help out the citizens who are parking-garage challenged, that is those who drive in circles in Maple Avenue Garage because they cannot find a route to go up, or those who wind around and end up retracing their steps while attempting to get out of the Church Street garage. More and better signage might help the occasional user of the parking garages.

… that two phrases used publicly this month will doubtless contribute to world harmony: that there can be “solid theoretical evidence” of something (in this case, another planet) and (from a ranting blowhard) that requests will be granted “in the appropriate time, and you’ll be satisfied.”

… Feb. 2 is Groundhog Day. Wonder if Pluto can see its shadow.