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… that traffic on Green Bay between the Noyes/Ashland spur and  Church is one lane in each direction (a few yards of exception), because of the ongoing Emerson-Ridge-Green Bay construction project.  Vehicles cannot exit onto Payne, so taking the spur is advisable. So is patience – this is a big job that, if done well, could really improve things. To get this project done, the City was forced to increase its contribution to the $11 million project.  The total project cost was initially pegged at $8,236,943, with the City contributing $4,402,373 and the balance being paid for with federal or state grants. When the bids came in for the project, though, the low bid was $11,173,775, or about $2.9 million more than budgeted. City staff was able to obtain additional grants, but the City’s share of the cost for the project increased from about $4.4 million to about $5.2 million. On July 25, Council approved contributing the increased amount.     

… that, farther west, crews have been fixing the lighting on Dodge around and south of Emerson.

… that, elsewhere around town, crews from A Lamp Contractors will be resurfacing Grey from Emerson to Foster and Cleveland between Dewey and Dodge, at a cost of $388,000. In the south project, crews will install additional streetlights and speed humps in the area and a police camera on Mulford east of Callan Avenue. City crews will continue sealing cracks on streets in 19 different places throughout the City. In all, about 240,000 linear feet of asphalt will be repaired. The contractor will grind out cracks in the pavement and then inject a rubberized sealing material to prevent water from seeping in and potentially cracking the pavement when it freezes and thaws. Drivers should expect short delays in the work zones, as flaggers route traffic around work crews. The work is expected to take 1-4 hours in each location.

… that City Council extended its agreement with Professional Account Management, LLC (PAC) to manage the processing and collection of fines on parking tickets for another year. The City has outsourced these functions to PAC since 2008, and says the collection rate on parking tickets increased from 78% in 2008 to 89% last year. Under the contract, the City will pay PAC 65.7 cents per parking ticket. In 2015, the total paid to PAC was $319,809. According to TG’s calculations, that means the City issued almost 487,000 parking tickets in 2015. Given that there is free parking on Sundays and some holidays, that means the City issued about 1,400 parking tickets per day. Can this be true, or is something missing?

… that, speaking of parking, City Council approved leasing 101 parking spaces in the Maple Avenue parking garage, 1800 Maple Ave., to 1571 Maple Avenue LLC. This was contemplated when Council granted a Special Use Permit to construct an apartment building on the Maple property. The initial term of the lease is seven years, and the LLC is granted the right to renew one or more successive terms, each for a period of five years. The LLC agrees to pay as rent “an amount equal to the standard monthly rate in effect from time to time at the Public Garage for a leased automobile space.” Tenants of 1571 may use up to 101 spaces, but those are unassigned. Beginning next week and lasting at least through October, crews from Reliable & Associates Construction Co., Inc. will be making a variety of repairs at the Church Street and Maple Avenue parking garages, at a cost of about $1.5 million.

… that NaKorn Restaurant on Orrington will be able to have a sidewalk café for the remainder of the summer, after it opens in a few weeks.

… that the average price of gasoline during the week ending Aug. 1 was $2.30 a gallon, which was 51 cents per gallon lower than one year ago, and $1.40 lower than two years ago, according to Gas Buddy’s survey.

 … that the City is gearing up for the winter with the approval of purchasing up to 7,500 tons of salt from Morton Salt Company at a cost of  $51.21 per ton, or a total cost for the winter  of $384,075. Under the contract, the amount of salt purchased by the City may be 30% higher or lower than 7,500 tons, which gives the City flexibility depending on weather conditions.

… that State Climatologist Jim Angel of the Illinois State Water Survey at University of Illinois reports that the Statewide average rainfall in July was 7.12 inches, 3.04 inches above normal, giving Illinoisans the third-wettest July on record. The wettest July on record was in 1958, with 8.10 inches. This year, the largest rainfall total in the state was in Carbondale with 13.34 inches, followed by Downers Grove with 12.95 inches. The Statewide average temperature for July was 75.9 degrees, 0.5 degrees above normal. While the second half of July was hot and humid, the first half had stretches of cool weather, including the July 4th weekend, reports Dr. Angel.

… that one youth suspected of robbing vehicles recently told police that Evanston has gained a reputation as a place ripe for thefts from cars, garages, and residences, because people do not lock their doors.  

…that there is a mixed reaction to the new bike lanes, with some people feeling they are a disaster, and others thinking they are the greatest thing. Here’s a
sampling of some comments.

TG: I am writing about the new configuration on Dodge. I have lived in the same home in Evanston for 48 years and cannot remember the powers that be doing something as unintelligent as the “new Dodge Avenue.” The car lanes are now very narrow, and, more importantly, since the cars are away from the curb, more dangerous.  
I had just turned south from Main Street onto Dodge Avenue as a fire truck turned north onto Dodge from Washington Street. Cars were parked on the east side of the street from Washington to Main. Some cars were parked on the west side also. So there was the fire truck and there was I. If there had been cars parked all along the west side of the street, the fire engine and I would have been unable to move because of traffic. Fortunately I could move over and the fire truck continued on its course.
Additionally, when drivers make a right turn they often cannot see if a biker is approaching the corner because of the parked cars. I know we are a bike friendly city, and I am all for that. However, when safety is involved, this is not a well thought out plan. I have spoken to many people in my area, and every person feels the same, including the bikers. And who needs those ugly poles?         – Sheila Brand

TG: After living at the south end of Dodge for 30+ years and commuting up and down all or most of it by car or bike for 30+ years, I love the new lanes. Dodge is now a rational width. It used to be a drag strip from Greenleaf to Howard – a real danger to pedestrians and especially to students trying to cross to Dawes or Chute or ETHS. As a cyclist, what a relief not to have to constantly watch for DUIs (near missed several times) or the inattentive/cell phone chatting driver who thinks a long, wide road is the perfect place to turn off their brains. So Yay. – Ben Shapiro

From TG: The areas on Dodge that are marked with cross-hatched painted lines are a cool place to stand and watch people riding their bikes on the sidewalks along Dodge Avenue. TG can see both sides of the issue. Readers may know that some members of City Council said they do not like the new lanes, and one called them “horrendous.” Council apparently plans to do “something.” TG, like all Evanstonians, awaits further news.

TG: Over the weekend, I noticed that a new, bright yellow height clearance sign has been installed on the Metra viaduct at Dempster (eastbound). Although smaller than its immediate predecessor, this one is installed with bolts (not adhesive) and will likely stay in place for a good long time. Also, it may help that the sign is now in the center of the viaduct. It seems more prominent.
According to Alderman Don Wilson’s original response, the new sign was fabricated (and likely installed) by the City of Evanston. So thanks to all – to the City (Public works ? Streets & San. ? Intergovernmental affairs?  all ?), to Ald. Wilson, to the police department, to my neighbors who are looking out for the neighborhood and to Evanston Roundtable’s Traffic Guy column for giving us a forum to share information and understanding. – Debbie Hillman

From TG: Right back atcha, Ms. Hillman. TG thanks you and the Nichols Neighbors and the City for looking out for the community.

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that, as readers may have seen in Betsy Bird’s most recent column and blog, patrons of the Library borrow “FAR more than the dog books. I’m not going to read too much into that, but clearly cat people in Evanston are far more inclined to read about their furry feline friends than their canine compatriots.” Was it a cat-lover then who “corrected” this sign at Haven Middle School?
And here’s another reminder of City ordinances:
Seems like people – dog-owners and police officers – pay little heed to these signs.

… that Streets Alive! is coming, when Main Street from Robert Crown east will be Evanston’s piazza – a gathering place for people to socialize, learn, and enjoy.