Gypsy moth caterpillars.Submitted photo

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… that the storm that seemed to barely graze northwest Evanston last week took down a huge tree on Payne near Hartrey. That one had a precision fall, missing the home, nearby street lights and vehicles and landing neatly across Payne Street. Crews had it chopped and chipped within a few hours. Not so fortunate was the arboreal event at Isabella and Girard, where, according to City information, the falling tree took down a ComEd power line, affecting 200-700 customers, depending on which ComEd source one heeded. Farther south, branches blocked the street in the 500 block of Dodge.

… that construction continues to snarl traffic but improve the infrastructure around town. Here are the projects listed on the City’s website, along with expected completion dates: • The Howard Street resurfacing and traffic signal upgrade, from the Target/Jewel shopping plaza to McCormick, is expected to be completed by Halloween. • The expected date of the Isabella bridge rehab is Aug. 31. • For the Chicago, Crain, Brown, and Ewing resurfacing projects and the Dewey resurfacing and water main projects, the expected end date is Aug. 19. • Work on the Hastings water main could be done by tomorrow, July 29.

… that work on the massive Emerson/Ridge/Green Bay project will be stepped up in the next few weeks. Here is an update from the City:
• Crews have completed storm sewer work on the west side of Green from Simpson to McCormick, installed temporary signals, and removed medians on Green Bay to provide temporary lanes for the reconstruction of Green Bay south of Emerson.
• Water main work on Green Bay continues.
• In the next three to four weeks crews will be replacing curbs and gutters on the west side of Green Bay from Simpson to McCormick; installing traffic-signal foundations and electrical ducts; transferring water service to the new main on Green Bay from Simpson to Noyes; installing a new water main on Green Bay south of Simpson and on Asbury to Emerson; installing a storm sewer at the Emerson/Ridge/Green Bay intersection; and installing water mains on Emerson east of Green Bay and on Ridge north of Emerson.
• Drivers can expect slower traffic, as there will be only one lane in each direction, and would-be parkers should heed the temporary “No Parking” signs that will be posted 48 hours ahead of time.
• The City says it will waive street cleaning and/or neighborhood parking restrictions for a one-block radius around the construction zone and apologizes for any inconvenience to residents and businesses in the area. The contractor is A Lamp of Schaumburg, and ESI Consultants will monitor the project. Questions and concerns about the project should be addressed to Resident Engineer Dave Doffin at 630-918-4113. Questions in general about project should be directed to Sat Nagar, Senior Project Manager at 311 or 847-448-4311.

… that some maple and other trees in Wilmette are crawling with caterpillars, which the Morton Arboretum has confirmed are gypsy moth caterpillars. According to the Massachusetts Audubon Society, “The gypsy moth, native to Europe and Asia, is an invasive moth that defoliates hundreds of acres of forests from New England west to Michigan and south to Virginia, and also on the west coast from California to British Columbia. It was introduced to the United States in 1869 when French artist, astronomer, and amateur entomologist Leopold Trouvelot imported some eggs of this species to Medford, Massachusetts, with the idea of breeding a silk-spinning caterpillar that was more resistant to disease than the domesticated silkworm. Unfortunately, the caterpillars escaped into his backyard. About 10 years later, they began to appear in large swarms, and by the late 1880s they were causing severe defoliation in the area.”

… that the North Branch Library will be closed for repairs starting Monday, through Aug. 28. That means the book drop will be closed and no books on hold will be available for pickup. According to the City, “Repairs and energy efficiency improvements to the North Branch will include new lighting, ventilation, heating and cooling systems and new water service.”

… that Evanston Township High School wants to muck up the front of the school even more, by adding two more “freestanding monument signs, one 7 feet by11 feet, 3 inches and the other 7 feet by 10 feet, for a total of five freestanding monument signs along the frontage of Evanston Township High School,” where, according to the City, one is permitted. The signs will also have variable LED message displays where the City permits only time and temperature message displays.

… that Cook County has produced a Long Range Transportation Plan, “Connecting Cook County,” to guide the County’s transportation decisions and their impact on economic growth and quality of life over the next 25 years. The plan “lays the groundwork for how the County invests in transportation to attract and retain businesses, people, capital and talent,” and was “a collaboration between Cook County, residents and stakeholders” according to a press release from the Cook County Board.
Five policy priorities shaped the County’s transportation agenda: Prioritize transit and other transportation alternatives; support the region’s role as North America’s freight capital; promote equal access to opportunities; maintain and modernize what already exists; and increase investments in transportation. Since the County finally quit diverting motor fuel tax funds for other uses, there should be some money for this but, according to the press release, “the County will also need to explore new and increased sources of revenue.”

From our readers: TG: Hi There, I’m thinking that the Traffic Guy doesn’t fully understand how the Divvy rental system works. The 24-hour pass pays for all use of a Divvy bike during that time, but only for 30 minutes each ride. So, someone could check out a Divvy bike six times in 24 hours, ride the bike for 30 minutes, check it back into a dock, and not pay any extra. The idea is that the bikes are for short trips, from home to the train in the morning, and then back again at night, and not to ride around the city all day exploring. Although, as long as the bike was docked every 30 minutes, you could ride a bike around the City all day exploring for the same $9.95, 24-hours pass. It is really great to put a bike in a dock and not worry about locking it up and taking all the time you want for a coffee or a movie. Another bike will be in the dock when you are ready to move on. Divvy bikes are a great deal with a yearly or monthly pass that gets you a “key” making it very easy to hop on and hop off anytime you want. And, with a membership, if you want to take a little longer, and ride for 45 minutes down the lakefront or on the 606 trail, the extra charges are just a few dollars, cheaper than a train or bus fare.       – Candance Hill

From TG: Thanks, Ms. Hill. That seems to contradict but perhaps clarifies information that TG had received earlier.

TG: (and to Fourth Ward Alderman Don Wilson and Nichols Neighbors): On July 18, yet another truck crashed into the Metra viaduct on Dempster (eastbound) and got stuck, blocking early morning traffic from about 6 to 7:30 a.m. It required the assistance of at least two City of Evanston police officers for a good portion of that time, plus a tow truck to extricate the truck.
While the truck driver was clearly going too fast (and possibly has not had adequate training), there has been no height clearance sign posted on the viaduct since May 15, 2016. As a citizen who twice brought this to the attention of two separate City authorities more than two months ago, something has fallen through the cracks: Metra? 311? Police Department? Other City of Evanston departments?
Citizen communications?
Timeline of the sign: Early 2016: New, larger clearance signs (11’ 9”) were installed at Dempster with an adhesive (no mechanical devices, such as bolts or rivets). May 1, 2016: I noticed that the sign on the Metra viaduct was hanging half off, having lost its adhesion on the old and rusty surface. I called 311 about the situation. They took complete details. I later learned that a neighbor had photographed the hanging sign and sent the photo to Metra. A few days later: I noticed that the sign had been re-adhered to the Metra viaduct, but again with no mechanical devices. May 15, 2016: I noticed the sign lying on the ground, blowing around the intersection. I picked it up. It being Sunday, I walked it over to the police station and told them the story. I asked if I could leave the sign with them, if I should call 311 the next day, or do something else. They said they would take care of it. July 18, 2016: CRASH. Still no sign installed on the Metra viaduct.
As someone who has lived in the neighborhood for a long time, I know that a height clearance sign is not the only issue involved with the high number of truck crashes at this intersection. How many more truck crashes will it take to bring the aging viaduct down and really cause a commuter nightmare?
Any suggestions for people in the neighborhood (e.g., Nichols Neighbors) to help mitigate future problems.   – Debbie Hillman

From TG: Thank you, Ms. Hillman. Since you have already alerted your alderman, we trust you will get a prompt response and hope that you will share it with readers of this column.

TG: How Will Snow Plows Operate on Dodge? I live in the 700 block of Dodge Avenue. The new bike lanes have many poles affixed to the surface of Dodge Avenue, epoxied into place (according to the crew who were installing them when I asked about the poles).
These poles definitely block access to the street curb along Dodge Avenue, so how will the snow plows and street sweepers be able to do their jobs now?
I called Evanston 311 to ask this question earlier this week, and my question was forwarded to the city department in charge of this project for response. I still have not heard anything back from them.
Maybe you already know the answer to this question? I am only interested in learning whether the snow plows and street sweepers will be able to be effective in their tasks of keeping Dodge Avenue open and clean.   – Susan Ani

From TG: James Maiworm, the City’s Bureau Chief – Infrastructure Maintenance, responded: “Thanks for the great question. The protected bike lane bollards on Dodge Ave are identical to the ones on Church and Davis streets. All of these bollards are designed and installed to be removable. Come fall, City crews will un-screw the bollards and store them over the winter giving us the opportunity to clear the street of leaves, snow and ice.”

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that if ETHS thinks it needs more cement monuments in front of the school for safety reasons, it should just come out and say so. But – even more flashing info on signs in front of the high school? TG thought the City and the school would be more mindful about creating distractions for drivers – what with the two tacky signs already at ETHS and the one at the Levy Center.

… that summer is coming to an end. The last of the summer festivals is next week, and movies in the park are replacing Starlight Concerts. Enjoy the fireflies and the crickets while they last.