A good place to rack up a bicycle, near Church and Chicago on the edge of downtown. RoundTable photo

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… that traffic on Green Bay between Simpson and Isabella should be back to normal tomorrow, Jan. 27. The City had implemented some temporary traffic controls so ComEd contractors could perform manhole inspections.

… that Terra Engineering of Chicago will provide design engineering services for the City’s traffic signal project on Emerson, modernizing and interconnecting the signals on Emerson at Maple, Elgin, and Benson and upgrading the Emerson/Dodge light. These new signals will be coordinated with those on Emerson at Ridge, Green Bay, and Asbury. Because the City anticipated a lot more traffic with the construction of the E2 apartment buildings, the developer will fund part of the cost of the project; other funding could come from federal Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality funding. The City hopes to obtain approval from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) by this May – and will carry on from there.

… that the City has pre-qualified five contractors to perform the Cured-In-Place Pipe (CIPP) rehabilitation in the City’s sewer system over the next three years: Hoerr Construction, Inc. of Peoria; Insituform Technologies, USA, Inc. of Chesterfield, Mo; , Kenny Construction Company of Northbrook; SAK Construction, LLC of O’Fallon, Mo; and Visu-Sewer, Inc. of Pewaukee, Wis.

… that this has been a roller-coaster winter, temperature- and precipitation-wise, with more rain than snow, bitter cold without the protection of the snow, high winds that sometimes bring warmth – or, relative warmth. It’s a bit freaky, too. Near the Ecology Center, the canal is frozen-ish, and one can see where people have thrown rocks onto the ice, possibly to test its strength, possibly to test their own.
Sunday a week ago was one of those blue-haze days of fall days gone by – like smoke from a fire so far away there was no smell of wood or leaves burning. It was warm but there was still ice on the lake. On Arrington Lagoon in Dawes Park, the ice was still strong enough to support skaters.

… that Stanley Consultants of Chicago will provide engineering design services for the Main Street Corridor Improvement Project, from Dodge to the west City limits. This project will be divided into two segments: the segment from Pitner to the west City limits first and Pitner-to-Dodge improvement in ensuing years. The City selected Stanley in August of last year, but because of budget limitations, the scope of the company’s services was limited pretty much to information gathering: a topographic survey, data collection, preliminary analysis, and some stakeholder meetings. Stanley will now be able to complete the concept plans and preliminary engineering, geotechnical and soils analysis, public meetings, and completion of engineering plans for construction for the western section (or is it “westerner,” because both sections are in the west (or westest) part of the City?). Some of the issues to be addressed are traffic control and pedestrian and bike access.

… that several Evanston breweries and its one distillery will participate in the Lincoln Square Winter Brew on Jan. 28: Peckish Pig, Sketchbook Brewing Co., Temperance Beer Co., and FEW Spirits.

… that at mid-month, average retail gasoline prices in Chicago had fallen 6.6 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $2.55 per gallon on Jan. 15, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 gas outlets in Chicago. This compares with the national average that has fallen 2.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $2.34 per gallon, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com. Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy, said, “For the first time since November, the national average price for gasoline has fallen over the last week, helped by weak demand and rising gasoline inventories.” Motorists should not expect this trend to last long, Mr. DeHaan said. “After the sweetness of Valentine’s Day roses and chocolates is gone, they will be in store for a jump at the pump as maintenance season begins and the long transition to summer gasoline becomes a pinch point, leading to gas prices that will mostly trend higher for two to three months.”

… that Jan. 19 was National Popcorn Day. A well known popcorn company suggested several popcorn treats, such as cookies and cream popcorn balls, gigantic turtle candies (made with caramel popcorn), and salted caramel popcorn bars.
 
… that the planet is heating up. Scientists reported last week that Earth’s 2016 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record-keeping began in 1880, making 2016 the third consecutive hottest year in a row, according to a story by Dr. Debra Byrd in Earthsky.org. “The findings are based on independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The data showed that in 2016, the average global temperatures were 1.78 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than the mid-20th century mean. The 2016 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York. GISS Director Gavin Schmidt said in a statement, ‘2016 is remarkably the third record year in a row in this series. We don’t expect record years every year, but the ongoing long-term warming trend is clear,’” Dr. Byrd wrote.  From Earthsky.org, one can click through to an interactive site to see how much warmer certain places around the globe are this year. For example, in 2016 the average temperature in Chicago was 52.3°. 2.4° above normal; in Champaign, the average 2016 temperature was  54.6°, 2.9° above normal.

From our readers: TG: Who is responsible for maintaining the Main Street Metra train depot? There is no heat, tables/chairs are disappearing, garbage is piling up, and there are large puddles of water on the floor. I’ve complained to Metra but received no response. – Julie Siculan, long time Metra rider

From TG: The Union Pacific owns the station and leases it to various tenants. Piccolo Theatre formerly leased the space in the lower part of the station, and the theater has relocated to St. Luke’s Church on Hinman. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said the UP is still working on a lease with a prospective tenant who would like to have a wine-mixing business in the former theater space. The City’s zoning board of appeals was scheduled to hear the matter, because a special use is required for this business, which the prospective tenant, Walter Clements, terms a “micro-distillery.”

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… It was surprising to learn that a recent survey found that the City does not have enough off-leash parks. This must be from law-abiding citizens who use only Pooch Park or the Dog Beach, because over the past decade or so TG has seen dogs running off-leash in almost every park visited (including several beaches that are not the dog beach).

… that the parking garage at Church and Chicago is a great place for this double-decker bike rack.

… now that the country seems to be divided into parallel universes, TG invites everyone to send in “alternative facts.”