The Evanston Fire Department has a new portable command board.Photo by Mary Rosinski

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… that a few recent traffic incidents have spawned some egregious reactions. A 45-year-old Chicago man was shot in the arm just before 9 p.m. on Feb. 10. The victim told police that he pulled his car into a parking lot at 959 Howard St. when a man whom he recognized from an earlier traffic altercation knocked on the window.  When the victim opened the car door, the man allegedly fired two shots, one striking the victim in the arm. The shooter then fled on foot. The victim’s girlfriend, who was not injured, drove him to St. Francis Hospital where he was treated for non-life-threatening injuries. Investigation continues.

… that a 19-year-old Evanston woman was charged with aggravated battery after hitting an Uber driver, a 27-year old Skokie man, with a baseball bat at about 7:30 p.m. on Feb. 11. The Uber driver was waiting for a passenger, and parked his car in the north alley of the 800 block of Central Street. A white van pulled up behind the Uber car and could not get around it. According to police, passengers in the van argued with the Uber driver, and one female got out of the van with a bat and damaged the mirror on the passenger side of the van. She returned to the van and the driver of the van attempted to pull away, but the Uber driver then tried to hold onto the van and was dragged a short distance before he fell to the ground. Then she allegedly got out of the van and struck the Uber driver around the head with the bat. The van left and was stopped by police in the 2000 block of Green Bay Road. The Uber driver was treated at Evanston hospital for head laceration injuries and had three staples put into his neck. This is way out of control. Don’t vans have a “reverse” gear like cars do?

… that hundreds of potholes and cracked pavement will be fixed under a contract City Council approved with J.A. Johnson Paving on Feb. 22. Johnson will provide 27,000 yards of asphalt patching for $22.25 per square yard or a total of about $600,000.

… that the City has retained Jasco Electric Corp. from McHenry to construct new athletic lights for Foster Field, which is used for football and baseball, at a cost of $267,765. The existing athletic lights there – just north of Fleetwood Jourdain – are more than 40 years old and in deteriorated condition. The new system includes pole-mounted athletic, security lights, new system controls and a 25-year warranty and lamp replacements.

… that the City has retained Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. to provide phase I engineering services for Study and Concept Design Services for the Fountain Square Renovation Project, at a cost of  $183,321.50. It’s no secret that the plaza and the fountains, installed in 1976 for the country’s bicentennial, have deteriorated, and the small size and configuration of the plaza provides limited space for public use. Currently, the following improvements are anticipated: a new plaza with a water feature, a permanent “holiday” tree, lighting, the Veterans’ Memorial and “enhanced roadway pavements east, west and south of the plaza.” The City also plans to replace the 100-year-old 6” water main with a new 12” water main on Sherman, resurface Sherman between Church and Davis Streets and maybe widen the sidewalk by reducing traffic lanes on that block. The company will also evaluate the triangle south of Fountain Square with an eye to enlarging it to “create a flexible expanded pedestrian environment and shared street,” something that could also entail lane reductions.  

… that the high winds on Feb. 19 caused the closure of sections of four streets in Downtown Evanston, those surrounding the Sherman Plaza building at 807 Davis St. Some construction materials blew off the roof, and there was concern that more materials would be dislodged and blown off the roof.

… that the NBC television show “Chicago Fire” was filming in the 1600 block of Forest Place on Feb. 17 and 18. Forest Place was closed between Davis Street and Church Street from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. So why is Chicago Fire filming a fake fire in Evanston?

… that speaking of fires, the Evanston Fire Department has a new portable command board, paid for with funds raised by the Evanston Police and Fire Foundation. The command board will help the captain or chief officer on the scene to keep track of what multiple fire companies (sometimes from other municipalities) are doing, what firefighters are doing, where victims are located, locations, and to record tactical objectives. Maintaining information on the board and will also enable firefighters to review it later and learn how to improve techniques and strategies.  

… that the City is not only getting new signage on the streets, but the District 202 School Board approved new signage to help visitors find their way around the Evanston Township High School. This is no simple task, because the school has more than three miles of hallways in what is billed as the largest school under one roof in the nation. Some of the key changes include:
• The four central wings and cafeterias of the school currently referred to as Bacon, Beardsley, Boltwood and Michael, will be referred to by directional names, North, South, East, and West (with North, being the northeast wing; West being the northwest wing; South, being the southwest wing; and East, being the southeast wing.) Already, one can see how visitors will have a clearer concept on how to get around.
• The first floor of the school’s H hall corridor will be renamed “Heritage Hall.” The arts wing will be “A” wing, and the field house and gym are will be the “G” wing.
• The six wings will be color coded.
• The three primary entrances to the building will be numbered 1, 2, and 3, instead of 1, 31, and 50.
• The District will develop a room numbering system to address missing room numbers and out-of-sequence numbers.
• The back drive will be named “Wildkit Drive.”
New overhead directional signs, office ID signs, symbol flags, wall directional signs with maps and room ID signs are also on the way. The sign designs will include the name and accent color of the respective wing to help emphasize the school’s color-coded system. The signage will be installed on a phased-in basis. Future phases of the signage project will focus on external signage, including entrances, athletic fields and parking lots.

… that February is Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month and the YWCA Evanston/ North Shore is doing good work to prevent teen dating violence. Starting as early as kindergarten, the YWCA also helps students develop the social-emotional skills they need to treat one another with respect, to stop bullying and to prevent violence, especially gender violence, before those patterns become entrenched.

… that the International Civil Aviation- Organization (which is the United Nations’ Aviation Agency) recently approved the first binding agreement to cover emissions for aircraft. This move is billed as a way to reduce pollution, but the new regulations will apply to new jets delivered after 2028, and reportedly the new emission standards are set at a level that most advanced jets already meet. While low-balling the standards may guarantee success, that’s not much help, especially because airlines are projected to add 50,000 new planes by 2050. So what kind of air will folks be breathing in a decade?

… that those Divvy Bikes offer a puzzle: Is this a good, green move or simply expensive window-dressing? City Council authorized the City Manager to negotiate an Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Chicago  under which the City of Evanston will receive $320,000 from the Illinois Department of Transportation (which is being passed through by Chicago) to establish eight Divvy bike stations in Evanston and to purchase 80 Divvy bikes to outfit those stations. Evanston is required to pony up $80,000 of its own funds. Council also authorized the City Manager to enter into an Operator Agreement with Motivate International Inc. to implement the Divvy Bike Share program in Evanston. This is part of an overall deal to connect Chicago’s Rogers Park and Austin neighborhoods with Evanston and Oak Park. City staff will continue to work with Motivate on the final locations for the Divvy bike stations in Evanston, and if everything rolls along according to plan, the stations could be in operation by July.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that ETHS should retain the names of its building wings, even though the new directional signs will give them compass names. Perhaps for transparency’s sake, they should name the halls Northeast, Southwest, Northwest and Northeast.

… that, Feb. 29 being Leap Day, perhaps it could be the day that everyone gets out – or exercises – their conspiracy theories by leaping to conclusions. But only for one day – then back to rationality.