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… that work on the Chicago Avenue / Sheridan Road Corridor Project is winding down. Lincoln will be closed at Sheridan though July 19, but emergency services at the City of Evanston and Northwestern University will be coordinated for safety. The road is scheduled to reopen on July 20 for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Crews will set up a detour for eastbound Lincoln traffic to use Orrington to Noyes Street if the destination is south and Orrington to Central Street if the destination is north. Once construction on the west side of Sheridan is complete, traffic will be switched onto the new lanes to accommodate road reconstruction of the east side. The City promises that workers will attempt to minimize inconveniences to residents.
… that those marching along the parade route next Fourth of July might notice brighter, freshly painted fire hydrants. The last section of the City in a five-year program to repaint all hydrants includes the westernmost part of Central Street. Sandblasting, priming and painting begins July 9 and should be finished by Sept. 13. Oh, and the hydrants will be regular red, not purple or pink or blue.
…that the flag bus stops along the section of Dodge between Main and Oakton may be going away, replaced by regular old posted bus stops. Right now, riders wave to the bus to get it to stop, a system perceived as problematic for those with accessibility issues. Citizens are invited to a meeting July 17 at 6:30 p.m. at the Levy Center to weigh in. The Traffic Guy notes that this is another fallout from the protected bike lanes on Dodge, which push bus riders farther away from the street and can place a line of parked cars in the way when riders try to flag down buses. Also, navigating across the bike lane to board a bus can be difficult. Unintended consequences and ramifications continue to flow from the oddly configured lanes… but then again, perhaps the antiquated “wave for my bus” system needed to go anyway. Current plans show three posted stops each way between Main and Oakton, at Washington, Monroe-Cleveland, and Keeney.
… that the pigmentation barrage in northwest Evanston is not limited to red hydrants this year. Pavement striping also kicked off July 9, roughly between Green Bay and McCormick. Most of the yellow and white stripes will be in “thermoplastic material… a type of reflectorized pavement marking material that is applied to the surface through a heat fusion process.” Stripes last three to five years, and then we do it all over again. Unless, of course, the street gets torn up for another reason, the fancy stripes with it. Oh, yes, “crews will also be striping areas throughout the City that were removed due to asphalt pavement patching this spring,” says the City.
…. that the motor fuel tax road resurfacing is underway for the six segments chosen for new pavement this year. As readers will likely recall, a five-cent-per-gallon tax collected at each visit to the pump is earmarked for road resurfacing. TG has heard, though, that some streets were shut down to parking last week with no sign of resurfacing. Stay tuned.
…that while everyone knows even the water treatment plant needs new doors, residents might be surprised to learn the cost – $80,500. At least the Water Fund pays for it, meaning ratepayers are footing the bill, spreading the cost among more than just Evanston taxpayers. Evanston taxpayers, though, will purchase the materials, labor and everything else for the new roof at Fire Station #2, 702 Madison –$234,057. To add a bit of salt to the wound, the project came in more than $14,000 over budget, requiring the City to dip into the Facilities Contingency fund to cover the full cost.
…the City will be entering into a Memorandum of Understanding with the CTA for the modernization of the Purple Line in Evanston, part of the CTA’s massive “Red Purple Modernization” project. The City will engage in a little “TIF magic” to fund its portion of the project. It seems there will be $1,000,000 left in the Washington National TIF when it closes at the end of the year, even after the TIF funds the entire $7 million of Fountain Square renovations. Purple Line riders are likely aware that the Davis Street station is pretty much the only modernized Purple Line station in the City. Still the City will tie its matching funds to the Davis Street station so it can use TIF dollars to fund it. Using the surplus, of course, shortchanges the school districts and the other taxing bodies of the TIF when it comes time to retire the TIF later this year.
…that residents who see an odd truck dropping what looks like a bowling ball onto the street should not be alarmed – it is just the pavement-condition evaluation project that began June 15. The results will show what streets need the most attention when the City makes repaving and repair decisions. The project was funded by general obligation bonds taxpayers will be repaying for the next 20 to 30 years, but the results are only good for about five years.
….that the rideshare revolution continues to impact streets. Two former taxicab-only parking spots are slated to be converted to “loading zones” for Uber, Lyft, general passenger drop-off, or plain old taxis, at 1007 Church. Another loading zone is coming to the Ice House Gallery at 609 South Boulevard, but the Ice House zone looks to be for loading and unloading of artist materials and works rather than passengers.
From our readers: TG: More than one Evanston resident (i.e. my wife and myself) has noticed the faux flag banners that seem to be replacing the actual U.S. flags along Central Street this time of year. We sure hope this is a temporary measure while the city rebuilds its inventory of Old Glory. — Kenny Smith
From TG: Thanks, Mr. Smith. It seems the “real” flags are put up by one group and the bunting by another. Good to register your complaint, so folks can consider this in the Fourth preparations next year.
TG: A local activist (not me) printing signs, in attempt to get people to stop. Should we do this Citywide? – Steve Norton
From TG: Thanks for the photo, Mr. Norton, and thanks for the suggestion. TG does not know where you took this and has seen at least one in the RT neighborhood and likes your idea of having these signs around town.
TG: We’re going to need to start installing bigger poles to accommodate all the directional signs. See the photo.
I also just noticed there is now a stop light specifically for the bike lane on Chicago. I had a red light – couldn’t turn right – because the (empty) bike lane had the green. And the jaywalking bike lane [at Chicago and Davis] is still intact. Is there a war on cars in Etown? Will bikers ever get a ticket for breaking the traffic rules?
Madness I tell you. – Kelley Elwood
From TG: With seasonally appropriate apologies to “Jaws,” the City is going to need a bigger pole. Sign after sign after sign – and still TG sees confused motorists heading the wrong way every day. Change is difficult. Is there a “war on cars” in Evanston? TG thinks the City always tries to balance pedestrian, bike and vehicle traffic whenever and wherever they interact, but sometimes the balance just isn’t quite right. The stacked-up vehicles waiting to turn right onto Church from Chicago may be such a place. And the dedicated bike lanes and signals along Chicago, preventing a right turn onto Church, may be taking things a bit too far. Still, no one wants right-turning vehicles to take out bicyclists.
The Traffic Guy thinks …
… that it would be nice to hear what readers think of the new stoplight configuration at Lake and Ridge? The City converted the light to single direction north and south, permitting safer left turns. TG has noted backed-up traffic along Ridge as a result, but is curious to know what other riders and readers feel about the change.