What to do when both sidewalks are closed? In the spirit of Halloween, grab your broom and take to the skies.RoundTable photo

… that once again this fall, City trucks will be pushing leaves into piles at the end of residential streets. The leaves are then collected by dump trucks and taken to James Park, where they are hauled off by a third party contractor at the rate of $595 per load. Council approved the contract with Thelen Materials for about $40,000. So, when you see neighbors raking and blowing leaves into the street, the City might actually scoop them up.

… that the cost of the replacement water storage tank near Lincoln and Sheridan continue to rise. This time, a third change order for the engineering alone takes the contract from about $1.174 million to over $1.25 million. The City blamed continuing negotiations with Northwestern for the latest increase, apparently negotiations unforeseen when the original engineering contract came before Council. The Traffic Guy thinks this will not be the last change order. Alderman Cicely Fleming, 9th ward, was the only alderman to vote against the change order.

… that speaking of change orders, sidewalks, as it turns out, are not cheap. Central Street is already infamous for its half-million dollar stretches of sidewalk, but Dodge Avenue now joins the club. A stretch of sidewalk between Main and Oakton initially cost the City $211,000, with the residents picking up the other half under the 50/50 sidewalk program. Already one change order (apparently “the removal of sidewalk brick pavers, concrete sidewalk installation, and curb and gutter work at the northeast corner of Sherman and Grove” was not foreseen) pushed the cost close to $228,000. Now, making bus stops along the stretch ADA accessible will add another $10,000. The Traffic Guy understand that it is really no surprise the ADA, passed in 1989, was not considered in the original bid. The City will expend close to $234,000 – Council rubber-stamped the change order on the consent agenda.

… that our roads will continue to be well salted this winter. The City agreed to a contract extension for the purchase of up to 7,500 tons of rock salt from, you guessed it, Morton Salt. Road salt costs $64.31 per ton for a nearly half million total. The city will turn around and sell come of this salt to the school districts, so it does not all end up on our roadways. The flexible contract requires the City to buy at least 5,250 tons if we do not need as much, but also allows the City to jack up its order to 9,750 tons if snow falls early and often.

… that a late entry to the sidewalk café parade is coming to Tag’s Café at 2012 Central Street. Two tables of three seats each are coming to take advantage of the tail end of the 2018 sidewalk café season.

… that for the first time in recent memory, the Mayor actually voted at City Council. The issue, whether to purchase three used Divvy bike stations from Oak Park at used station prices, arose when Alderman Ann Rainey, 8th ward, missed the meeting, leaving an even number of aldermen to vote. Alds. Wynne, Suffredin, Rue Simmons and Revelle voted to add the stations. Alds. Fleming, Braithwaite, Fiske and Wilson voted no. Mayor Stephen Hagerty stepped in to break the tie and spend City money to buy the used stations. New stations are on the way.

… that as reported initially in the last Traffic Guy, the new stations are expected to be installed near the Levy Center, near Simpson and Ridge, and near Simpson and Lincolnwood. According to staff, the new stations will close some west-side gaps in Divvy coverage.

… that Council also voted to give Motivate International, Inc. three more years operating the Divvy network in Evanston. Only Ald. Judy Fiske, 1st ward, voted no this time. Staff’s crystal ball predicts the contract will cost the City nothing overall, expecting ridership and sponsorship dollars to completely cover costs of the program. (A separate Council vote entered into a MOU with Chicago sharing sponsorship dollars, with Ald. Fiske again providing the only “no” vote.) The Traffic Guy loves crystal balls.

… that improvements are coming to Harbert Park, the under-appreciated gem along the sanitary canal south of Dempster. Funding plans include an application for a matching grant from the state Open Space Land Acquisition and Development fund, newly released by the state. The total pricetag sits at $640,000, only $120,000 of the City half in borrowed GO bond money. Without the state grant, the City will likely have to do without this year. It’s still an under-appreciated slice of Evanston open greenspace right next to the Kabul House, so TG recommends a pleasant evening stroll, whether Harbert gets its upgrades or not.

… that Evanston residents can be forgiven for having no idea when Snow Routes and Snow Emergency rules kick in. Another change came before City Council Monday night, Sept. 17. These changes apparently coordinate the ordinance with the signs. TG recommends consulting the aforementioned crystal ball when it snows.

… that students do not drive that much, according to zoning changes passed by Council. Dormitories, sororities and frat houses now require fewer parking spaces under the zoning code, dropping from 4,096 to 3,493. Perhaps something really inspiring will replace a Northwestern parking lot soon. Or perhaps, given the shift toward more and more students living on campus, we will just find more student cars jockeying for street parking around campus.

From Our Readers: TG: If a conscientious bicyclist attempts to follow these pictograph signs when the bicyclist is simultaneously stopping and right turning, the bicyclist will have no hands available to either apply the hand brakes or steer the handlebars.  – Daniel Joseph

From TG: Mr. Joseph seems to miss one of the points here. Apparently, we are trying to train our riders to ride acrobatically with no hands. Safety requires the ability to adapt, adjust and respond. [Disclaimer: bicycle riders out there, do not attempt. DO NOT ATTEMPT.]

Another reader defends the changed bicycle hand signals.

TG: Both left arm bent and right arm extended as right turn signals are in common use today by cyclists….  And you, Traffic Guy, are quite wrong about the stop signal.  It is in very common use among groups of cyclists to indicate to the trailing cyclists that the front cyclist is stopping.  – Steve Cohen

From TG: While it may come as a surprise to many, the Traffic Guy is on occasion wrong. That said, Mr. Joseph’s point still stands.

Reader Dan Lowman makes a similar point, while adding that if dealing with potholes or similar road hazards, bikers should just keep both hands on the handlebar and eschew signals entirely. Sound advice.

TG: I know you might be fatigued on the topic of Green Bay/Emerson/Ridge/Asbury, which I call the Evanston Strangler. My latest beef is the increasing frequency of “blocking the box,” when drivers run the yellow or red and end up blocking the intersection. I reluctantly suggest red camera installation.  – Kathleen Quinn

From TG: The Traffic Guy has noted the same effect and wonders how the “improvement” could have possibly made things so much worse. It feels like it should be back to the drawing board on the entire red light sequencing.