Allowing water to flow from the hydrant provides valuable information on the status of the hydrant water system.RoundTable photo

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… that, not to everyone’s amusement, folks set off a multitude of fireworks in the days preceding and following the Fourth of July. The RoundTable has reports of children, babies and even adults not being able to sleep for the noise, runaway and frightened pets and other just plain irritants. The Evanston City Code states at 5601.1.3: “The possession, manufacture, storage, sale, handling and use of fireworks and explosives are prohibited except as approved by the Fire Official. Prior to issuing permits for a fireworks display, plans for the display, inspections of the display site, and demonstrations of the display operations shall be approved.” Only one arrest, though. Evanston Police officers did find and issue tickets for these violations as part of the statewide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” campaign:  92 for seat belt violations; 3 for failure to secure child in proper safety restraint system; 77 for operating a vehicle while using a handheld cellular phone; 3 for transportation of open alcohol; 11 for operating vehicle with no valid proof of insurance; 4 for speeding over the posted limit; 6 for operating a vehicle with a suspended driver’s license; and 21 others for miscellaneous infractions.
“In 2014, on average, one person was killed every 53 minutes in a drunk-driving crash in the United States. That means there was a total of 9,967 drunk-driving fatalities that year in America. These enforcement crackdowns are vital because too many people are not heeding the message – drunk driving is deadly and illegal,” said City Traffic Bureau Supervisor Sergeant Tracy Williams. “Alcohol not only dangerously impairs your driving skills – it impairs your judgment. Anytime you see a friend drinking alcohol, make sure they don’t plan to drive home.”
The Evanston Police Department joined forces with other law enforcement agencies and highway safety partners throughout the state in the Illinois Independence Day “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” crackdown.

… that the crackdown, part of the state-wide “Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over” and “Click It or Ticket” campaigns, was funded by federal traffic safety funds through the Illinois Department of Transportation.

… that there was some damage from the July 6 storm that brought .083 inches of rain along with high winds: Power that was out in the 1900, 2000, 2100 & 2200 blocks of Noyes, the 2100 & 2200 blocks of Payne, 2100 block of Grey and 2100 block of Hartrey, and the traffic light at McCormick and Bridge was restored by the end of the day. There was damage to a tree in the 100 block of Callan, which also damaged a parked vehicle, and to one in the 1000 block of Florence.

… that the temporary traffic control plan on Central between Eastwood and Ashland should be over tomorrow. The rerouting was so crews from Rocha Plumbing Inc. could connect new sewer and water lines to the building at 1620 Central St.

… that, speaking of construction, ‘tis again the season. Nicor is installing new gas mains in the following areas: 2716-2752 Bennett; 2000-2621 Central; 2009-2122 Colfax; 2222- 2336 Grey; 2407 & 2533 Hartrey; 2204-2432 Noyes; and 2142-2515 Pioneer. Project-related questions should be directed to Frank Tanzillo, at 224-239-8587. Landscaping and paving questions may be directed to 800-730-6114 ext. 4.

… that work on the Isabella Street bridge began this week and is expected to continue through the end of August. The project includes “bridge deck and approach slab rehabilitation, removal and replacement of expansion joints, curb and sidewalk repair as needed, and a latex concrete overlay including installation of new strip seal joint at the abutments,” according to the City.

… that the Evanston Fire Department, in cooperation with the City’s Public Works Agency, has begun its annual Citywide fire hydrant testing program. Hydrant testing will take place between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays through Oct. 14. Here’s additional information from the City: “During testing, each hydrant will be allowed to flow water for a short period of time. … Some residents may notice a discoloration in their tap water while hydrants on their blocks are being tested. The discoloration should be short-lived and can be eliminated by flowing tap water. If discoloration continues, please call/text 847-448-4311.”

… that Divvy Bike Share came to Evanston last week, with 100 bikes and 10 stations, which, Divvy says, are “being installed in locations strategically chosen to provide residents, visitors and students with an additional two-wheeled transportation option.” Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl welcomed Divvy to Evanston, and Tom Witt, president of the Evanston Bicycle Club said, “Divvy will work in tandem with other City programs and projects such as Pedal Bright, Bike the Ridge and the new Dodge Avenue Protected Bike Lane to encourage cycling both for recreation and for practical purposes, such as commuting. The Evanston Bicycle Club is proud to be a part of the diverse cycling community in Evanston and we look forward to continuing to support an environment that is safe, comfortable and convenient for all road users.” An annual membership in Divvy costs $99 – or $9.95 per month on the installment plan, with a one-year commitment. A 24-hour pass is available for $9.95; while the pass is good for 24 hours, it covers only a 30-minute use of the bike; incremental charges apply thereafter. The stations now contemplated are at Benson and Church; Chicago and Washington; Sherman and Austin; Dodge and Dempster; Central and Poplar; Central and Girard; Chicago and Sheridan; Sheridan and Noyes; and the NU library. Many of these are close to public transportation or major employers – nothing near the Civic Center, though.

… that the politicians in Springfield pulled off a stopgap budget at the end of June, capping off a budget year in which many expenditures were approved piecemeal by the legislature or mandated by courts. That meant that construction resumed on the Dodge Avenue protected bike lane. While some bicyclists have said they are glad for the new lane, others have told the RoundTable they believe traffic will be more congested when City vehicles, such as police cars, fire trucks, garbage trucks, and recycling trucks,  have to make stops there. As with the Church and Davis protected bike lanes, vehicle drivers and passengers will have to keep an eye out for bikes, and bikers will have to look out for cars, trucks, motorcycles, and buses. Everyone is still in kindergarten, it seems, when it comes to sharing the road.

… that the City will open the Clarke Mansion on Aug. 3 for “groups and individuals interested in the long-term use of the facility to view the interior.” Reservations are being accepted from groups and individuals for two-hour time slots between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. Interested persons may register at cityofevanston.org/mansion or call/text 847-448-4311 (or just 311).  There will be an open house for the general public between 3 and 4 on that day. Only 20 people will be allowed in the mansion at any one time.

… that the folks at GasBuddy.com report that as of last week average retail gasoline prices in Chicago had fallen 8.8 cents per gallon, averaging $2.52/gallon, according to its daily survey of 1,437 gas outlets in Chicago. This compares with the national average that has fallen 3.0 cents per gallon in the same time period to $2.26/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com. “Any way you slice it, this summer has featured the cheapest Memorial Day, July 4, and perhaps Labor Day in the last 11 years, and motorists have been responding by hitting the roads in record numbers, according to a GasBuddy.com study before the summer driving season began,” Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, noted.

… that State climatologist Jim Angel reports the statewide average temperature for June in Illinois was “74.8 degrees, 2.9 degrees above normal and the 14th warmest June on record.” DuQuoin had the warmest reading of the state, 102 on June 16. The statewide average rainfall for June was 3.04 inches, 1.17 inches below normal and the 30th driest June on record. June was also an active month for tornadoes, with 23 reported, says Dr. Angel. There were also seven reports of damaging hail and 49 wind-damage reports, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Storm Prediction Center.

From our readers: TG: Do you have a solution for preventing the Northwestern construction workers from parking in the Lighthouse lot? There are even less spots for the beachgoers and a hassle for those moms/dads with little kids. While you are at it, do you think the plumbing will be fixed before the summer ends so everyone can wash the sand off their feet? Thanks…an inveterate beachgoer.      – John Robinson

From TG: Rick Voss, the City’s parking czar, has already implemented a solution: changing the “no parking” times and issuing residential stickers to early-birds at Lighthouse. Previously, parking was prohibited when the park was closed – 11 p.m. to 6 a.m., and many NU construction vehicles were parked there, because work begins at 7. Now parking is prohibited until 8 a.m., but parking enforcement officers and parks & recreation staff have been at the parking lot early in the morning, handing out temporary parking stickers to residents who wish to use the park before 8. Mr. Voss said the first day of the change the PEOs turned away 30 vehicles, but only two on the following day. “Some were understanding,” he said, but “some weren’t friendly.”

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that it’s nice that the folks in Springfield could finally pull together even for a stopgap budget. Wonder how many hot-air balloons all those egos would fill. … that the Ethnic Arts Festival this weekend should be fabulous. Hope everyone can attend.