Good fences make good plazas.RoundTable photo

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… that the City has given updates on the Sheridan/Chicago, the Fountain Square and the Emerson/Ridge Green Bay projects:
The State budget shutdown delayed the Sheridan/Chicago project by about six weeks, although the project is picking up steam. The west side of Sheridan between Chicago and Lincoln is now complete, and construction on the east side began Sept. 1, with an anticipated stop-date (not completion date) of mid-October. Crews will return next spring to finish the project from Lincoln to Isabella.
At Fountain Square, the improvements to the little island south of Davis are on schedule. Above ground, on the island, the curb-and-sidewalk work is “substantially complete and foundation work on the south plaza area is beginning,” according to the City, and will continue through late October. Most of the work in the north plaza (the one typically called “Fountain Square”) is underground, so it could be difficult to discern progress. The City anticipates that the contractor will be “off-site” for the holiday shopping season, but the memorial wall and the fountain will probably not be done until next spring.
And now to everyone’s favorite: Emerson/Ridge/Green Bay Road. Drivers and pedestrians may have noticed a glut of cars in this tight intersection in the past few weeks; the City reports the volume of traffic has increased by 75% or more since it is “functionally acting as the unofficial detour route for Sheridan Road.” Further, it’s taken longer than hoped to get the mast-arm signage for northbound traffic; its likely installation date is “late 2017.” But it’s coming. And, until sleet and snow take over, there are still the signs on the road itself.

… that the City may reduce the speed limit on Chicago between Dempster and Sheridan to 25 mph, a 5-mph reduction – one that everyone should be able to live with.

… that the City would like to get money more quickly from people who do not pay their parking tickets, so City Council plans to reduce the number of unpaid tickets that result in having a car booted from five to three. Remember, there is a bit of time left for the parking-ticket “amnesty.” Until Sept. 30, people who have unpaid parking tickets will have to pay only the fine, not a lot of extra penalties.

… that Sept. 17 was apparently a “Don’t-Drive-a-Gas-Fueled-Car Day” here. The North Shore Century again sent bike iders through Evanston and along the North Shore. In the City parking lot on Central Street, at Stewart, electric vehicles were on display, as part of National Drive Electric Week. Mayor Hagerty proclaimed Sept. 9-17 “Drive Electric Week” in Evanston.

From our readers: TG: Shortest street in Evanston with a traffic signal? I nominate Bridge Street.   – Daniel Joseph

From TG: Great choice. Any other nominations in this niche?

TG: In the continuing debate over Evanston’s shortest street, a RoundTable reader recently suggested that Dryden Place (just north of Dempster, and east
of Asbury) might be the shortest. Close, but no cigar!
Dryden Place extends about 275 feet eastward from Asbury Avenue. While that’s less than half the length of a standard 660-foot city block, it’s still somewhat longer than Evanston’s Wade Street, Arnold Place and Linden Place, which all measure in
at less than 200 feet.
But Dryden Place, in the middle of Evanston’s Ridge Historic District, is unique in one respect. Its red brick pavement (albeit just a few years old) is reminiscent of Evanston roadways a century ago, when rugged brick streets were the norm rather than the exception.
Ironically, one of the last remaining examples of early brick pavement in Evanston lies just a few blocks north of Dryden Place. It’s the alley running from Asbury west to Wesley Avenue, between Davis and Grove Streets.
How distinctive is this one-block stretch of brick pavement? Back in 1918, adjacent property owners decided the alley deserved its own name, so they petitioned the Evanston City Council to name it “School Lane.” While the proposal was seriously discussed in the Council, the alley was never designated “School Lane.”  But even without the official designation, it’s safe to say the red-brick alleyway has provided a short-cut to and from Dewey Elementary School for many generations of Evanston schoolchildren. – Michael I. Kelly
From TG: Thanks, Mr. Kelly. Your information is always delightful.

TG: In rebuttal to Prof. Shapo: I was shopping downtown when I was overcome with a feeling of vertigo, and then, as if from thin air, an odd person of indeterminate gender appeared and announced it was a Martian, showing me its green card to prove it. It asked if I would take a survey. I usually pass on such things, but agreed this time.  
The Martian began asking me a serious of suspiciously detailed questions about Evanston traffic patterns, including leading questions on how bicycles were a nuisance. I stopped it and asked, “Why would someone capable of interplanetary travel care about bikes and cars in Evanston, Illinois?” It smiled (I think), and said, “I am a highly-regarded professor of societal myopia at a prestigious inter-galactic university.”  
“Why are you here?” I asked.  
He said, “Because it is clear to Martians that carbon pollution is endangering your civilization, and you must change.”
“But why ask about bikes and traffic?”
“Many of your kind are remarkably myopic. They cannot connect their individual actions to the collective threat. Even the best educated among you often reject the slightest inconvenience meant to help stave off societal endangerment. You must change, but some refuse.”
“Is there any hope for us?”
”I do not know. If, for many in your town, making space for a bike lane is an outrage, if driving less and walking more is ridiculous, if even driving slower to make others safe is infuriating, then I do not see how you survive.”
I hung my head.
But,” it said, “I have studied your kind for a long time, and know that, with time, reason triumphs, even over law professors.”
The feeling of vertigo left me, and I was again standing in downtown Evanston. The Martian was gone. Around me cars drove by at a steady clip. A few bikes passed by. Everything seemed peaceful. If the world was in jeopardy, I wondered why the Martian would come here. – John Hennelly

From TG: Evanston is fortunate to have such observant Martian visitors. Hope the next one can alight on Florence Avenue, the RoundTable’s home.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that a new season is always invigorating. Welcome to the fall.