1590 Elmwood Ave. – serious rust.Photo by Steve Cohen

… that Livability.com has named Evanston one of the “Top 100 Best Places to Live 2018,” besting more than 2,100 cities with populations between 20,000 and 350,000. Here’s what Livability has to say about our fair City: “Just north of downtown Chicago is Evanston, a city with its own thriving downtown district highlighted by three shopping areas, 90 restaurants, an 18-screen movie theater, several nightspots, and 300 businesses. Evanston is home to Northwestern University, and also located within the city limits are two top-flight medical centers – Evanston Hospital and Presence Saint Francis Hospital. Residents have diverse housing choices in a variety of neighborhoods, and Evanston has become a popular movie production location in recent years. The community ranks high in sustainability with cooperative efforts by individuals, businesses, and the local government.”

… that the City of Evanston’s Parking Division has completed 2018 updates to parking meters and pay boxes.
Locations that were previously 75 cents per hour are now $1 per hour. In addition, the enforcement time in business districts is now uniform, with payment required between 8 a.m. and 9 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

… that aldermen at the Jan. 22 City meetings reviewed City staff’s analysis of the 405 sidewalk complaints – made through the 311 system – all over the City in 2017. That number is 1.21% of the more than 33,000 requests that came through 311 last year. There were also nearly 12,000 requests to the Public Works Agency, just over 3% of them about sidewalks. The requests were for evaluation or for maintenance. That year there were 317 “pothole requests.” The 246 “evaluation” complaints, according to the City, “are for buckling sidewalks that could be caused by tree roots and/or to request participation in the 50/50 sidewalk and curb replacement program.” The 159 maintenance requests are “reports for cement or brick sidewalk that are in poor condition or a trip hazard that are not in front of [the caller’s] property. As a trip hazard, the goal is for someone to inspect within one business day.”

… that the City traffic guys are looking for constructive advice about what to do with the “Ridge Corridor,” between Church and Howard. The average daily traffic on Ridge is estimated at 15,000-20,000 vehicles, and on the major side streets is estimated at 5,000-12,000. The speed limit is 30 miles per hour. Here’s an interesting bit of information from the City: “Using data from the speed radar signs installed in 2017, staff is able to determine that the average speed is about 26 mph and the 85th percentile speed is about 34 mph (15% of motorists travel faster that 34 mph).”
There are school speed limit signs for Oakton and Roycemore schools, and crossing guards at Lake, Greenleaf, Main, Oakton, Austin and Hull; there are left-turn restrictions, cautionary signs, and an easier access to Emerson. But there are still a lot of accidents: rear-enders, side-swipes, and T-bones. Some options being considered are reducing the speed to 25 mph; increasing the tree-trimming along Ridge so drivers can see signals’ continuing or upping speed-limit enforcement, possibly installing cameras; and installing split-phase signals at Lake and at Greenleaf, similar to the ones at Main and Oakton. Of course, that will increase backups and possible spillovers to side streets. The City folks also think there should be a left-turn arrow for northbound traffic turning west onto Davis. Folks should be prepared for some major changes on Ridge, some they may not like, such as mast-arm, not post-top signals. Or everyone could just slow down and take care.

… that through Feb. 6, PJS Sewer & Water of Chicago will be occupying the south lanes at 2022 Central St. to complete water and sewer service installation there. Drivers will find reduced lanes there and fewer parking meters for the next few days.

… that the City will extend for one year its contract with Motivate International to operate the Divvy bike-sharing program here. The City will also put up signage and markings for new bike routes and paths. After findings that 2017 was the second-warmest (according to NASA) or third-warmest (according to NOAA) year on record, folks may take biking and walking more seriously. NASA and NOAA use slightly different standards, but, either way, two things are clear: the 2017 results make the past four years the hottest on record, and the present administration is doing nothing to help matters.

… that as of this week average retail gasoline prices in Chicago had fallen 7.3 cents per gallon over the past seven days,  averaging $2.75 per gallon on Jan. 22, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 gas outlets in Chicago. This compares with the national average that has not moved in the last week to $2.53 per gallon, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.
Including the change in gas prices in Chicago during this past week, prices yesterday were 28.5 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 4.1 cents per gallon lower than a month ago. The national average has increased 8.8 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 22.7 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

From our readers. We have the best readers. They have the best words.
Responding to Gail Siegel informing TG about the crosswalk on Dodge in the Jan. 11 issue of the RoundTable, I offer the following:

In 2011, when the City repaved Dodge between Oakton Avenue and Main Street, said crossing didn’t exist. In 2013, through my persistence, I had it put in. The bus stops off both sides of this stretch and the protected bike lanes have rendered the one crossing insufficient. As TG inferred, one still needs to walk excessively to cross safely. Furthermore, may I point out that this winter’s salt residue obliterates all the thermal plastic markings on Dodge Avenue, thereby endangering pedestrians. Finally if you’re crossing (with or without your pooch) from the west side, I wonder if you noticed that if a car is parked right up to the crossing, that neither you nor dog is in the line of sight of southbound drivers as you venture out into the street.  — Fred Wittenberg

From TG: Thanks, Mr. Wittenberg. Maybe, between you and Ms. Siegel, the City will come up with something better.

TG: In belated response to the request in the 12/14 issue for new year traffic wishes, here’s mine: Driving north on Ridge Avenue and approaching the now infamously redesigned intersection of Green Bay Road, Ridge Avenue and Emerson Street, there are three lanes. Each has a painted designation indicating that the far left lane is for Emerson traffic, the middle lane for Green Bay traffic, and the right lane for Ridge traffic. There are three overhead arrow signals, two indicating left-turn lanes, and one aimed straight ahead, mounted on the Metra overpass bridge. Three lanes, three arrow signals, BUT only two overhead street signs, one for Green Bay, and one for Ridge. My wish for 2018: Add a third overhead sign for Emerson Street and locate it next to the far left-hand arrow signal. That way drivers should no longer be confused about which lane to be in if they plan to turn left onto Emerson, or if they plan to take the left fork onto Green Bay. We just need one more overhead sign, as the painted roadway designations are sometimes obscured by other cars, darkness, and snow & ice.
Thank you for your consideration of this modest suggestion.  – Jill Graham

From TG:  And a fine suggestion it is – three signs, three lanes. Thank you, Ms. Graham – and read on.

TG: The persistent problem has been “improvements” to the Green Bay Road/Emerson/Ridge interchange. Despite arrows, signs, and traffic signals, drivers in all directions still don’t get it. For those of us who use this interchange a minimum of twice daily, it is monumentally frustrating. Drivers continue to find themselves in the wrong lanes, or stranded in lanes which cause gridlock restricting oncoming traffic. The engineering professionals still can’t remedy the situation through the timing of lights or the current signage. Green lights are too short to sufficiently clear backed-up traffic.
Although we can’t effectively train drivers to travel in the correct lane, maybe we can reduce the frequency of gridlock due to cars trying to make it through the short green light. I would recommend striping the intersection with grid lines (similar to those in front of fire stations, or busy intersections in midtown Manhattan) which warn drivers: “Don’t Block the Box” It may not be a perfect solution, but anything would be an improvement.  – Deb Clamage

From TG
: What a great idea, Ms. Clamage. Residents have to understand that Evanston is stuck with this intersection – at least until Elon Musk gets his underground highways going.

TG: It looks like the city is buying cheaper metal grates used to surround trees along the sidewalks.
This is a photo of the ones installed outside the new building at 1590 Elmwood Ave. – serious rust. Older grates don’t seem to have as much.         – Steve Cohen

The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that this freezing-and-thawing weather is going to generate a lot of potholes in the spring. Meanwhile, TG joins the City in requesting folks to keep sidewalks clear and fire hydrants free and visible. Help a neighbor; check in on a friend. Winters are shorter and shorter here each year, but during the few weeks the cold and snow visit Evanston, make sure others can get out and about safely.