The berm of the Mayfair spur    

… that the 500 Davis St. office building brought in a hefty $32.4 million when Steelbridge Capital sold it recently to a joint venture of Northbrook-based investor Randy Rissman and CBRE Chairman Bob Wislow. Steelbridge Capital paid about $18 million for the building two-and-a-half years ago, according to Crain’s Chicago business, and put about $600,000 into renovating the plaza.

… that People for Bikes has named
the Chicago Avenue/Sheridan Road two-mile-long, two-way protected bike lane one of the 10 best new bikeways in the country for 2018. Here is part of what was written in “The goals of the project were
to minimize conflicts, provide physical separation, manage conflicts at intersections, provide transit accommodations,
and provide network connections.

“The centerpiece of the improvement is a 2-way protected bike lane along the east side of Chicago Avenue/Sheridan Road that incorporates a cast-in-place or precast barrier separating it from traffic, bend-outs at major intersections, bicycle signals at all signalized intersections and green paint to identify conflict areas. Additionally, the changes improved pedestrian safety by narrowing crossing distances and provided significantly better transit accommodations.

“In the end, the project provides a safe corridor for the 10,000 pedestrians, 1,000 cyclists, and 18,000 cars that use it daily. Source: Michelle Harford.” The project was also selected as a Public Works Project of the Year by the American Public Works Association – Chicago Metro Chapter (Suburban Branch).

… that, at 9 a.m. on Dec. 27, water
began flowing from Evanston’s water treatment facility to Niles and Morton Grove. That seems to mean the pumping station at Church and McDaniel is operational now.

… that TG made a couple of geographical missteps in identifying the best and worst of Traffic 2018. The traffic light at “Asbury and Ridge” is in fact at Asbury and Green Bay, and the viaduct on Foster where a lovely mural adorns the north wall, is part of the Mayfair spur of the Chicago & Northwestern Railway, not the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern (also misidentified in Mary Helt Gavin’s TIF story). Robert LeBailley and Dick Lanyon both wrote about the Mayfair spur and remaining berm.

… that the largest December tornado outbreak in state history occurred on Dec. 1, 2018 when the National Weather Service confirmed 28 tornadoes in Illinois – this according to Brian Kerschner, spokesperson for the state climatologist office, at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. The second-largest number of tornadoes in December was 21, on Dec. 18-19, 1957. In other aspects of Illinois climate in December, again, according to the Illinois State Water Survey, the statewide average temperature for December was 34˚, 4.2˚ above the long-term average.  The statewide average precipitation for December was 3.32 inches, 0.63 inches above the long-term average. Mr. Kerschner’s outlook also stated, “Looking ahead at the rest of January 2019, the Climate Prediction Center forecasts an above normal chance for a drier than average January for most of the state. The highest probabilities are centered over northern Illinois and the Great Lakes. The highest probabilities for above average temperatures are concentrated over the upper Midwest and North Dakota, with a smaller probability extending into northwest Illinois.”

… that trash from decades ago washed up recently on the Outer Banks. Here’s a mid-December post from Cape Lookout National Seashore: “Wayback Wednesday – This bag was found last week on the sound beach along the Soundside nature trail on Harkers Island along with other storm debris during a trail cleanup. The bag design looked ‘odd’ to us, but we couldn’t put our finger on why until we noticed the date in the lower corner – 1979. While this was sort of a neat find due to its age, it serves as a reminder that plastic trash lasts a long time, in this case almost 40 years.”

… that, as readers doubtless know, NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft has seen Ultima Thule. The expectation – and hope – is that more information will be on its way from this object that is 4 billion miles away and is said to look like a red snowman, information that scientists say could lead to discoveries about the origins of the sun and the planets. It appears to be linked to the birth of this solar system, about 4.5 billion years ago. Ultima Thule, the name that the mission team selected for the object from more than 34,000 suggestions from the public, means “beyond the borders of the known world.” (Thule is pronounced “TOO-lee.”) It comes from old Roman maps designating the farthest known lands. “Thule” was likely Iceland, and “Ultima Thule,” Greenland.

… that, also speaking of space, on Jan. 3, China’s Chang’e-4 spacecraft successfully landed on the moon’s far side, a placed hitherto unvisited. Scientists say Chang’e-4’s landing site is an area where an ancient impact by space debris pounded the moon long ago, possibly exposing some of the lunar mantle, the layer beneath its crust.

… that, even though the solstice has passed, the latest sunrises of the year for those in the mid-latitudes are occurring these days. Bruce McClure of writes of this natural occurrence or seeming phenomenon: “This natural order [earliest sunset, solstice, latest sunrise] is part of what we can expect every year on our tilted Earth, pursuing our elliptical orbit around the sun.”

From our readers: TG: I think you meant the former C&NW railroad Mayfair Division line, also known as the Mayfair branch or Mayfair cut-off. The branch was used to route freight away from the lakefront, leaving the Milwaukee Division for commuter and passenger traffic between Evanston and downtown Chicago.

– Dick Lanyon

From TG: Thank you for the clarification, Mr. Lanyon. You are right.

TG: As far as I know, the EJ&E (Elgin, Joliet & Eastern) railroad never entered Evanston. Here is a webpage which shows their right of way. If the mural you refer to on Foster is the one between Jackson and Ashland, that spur was built by the Junction Railroad Company, a Chicago & North Western subsidiary. This spur was called the Mayfair Branch, and the rail yard where Home Depot, Sam’s Club and Food for Less are now was called the Weber Yards. You can read more about it at the link below, including photos of the “Wye” and Canal Tower (which was on the northeast corner of Simpson and
Green Bay Road, directly east of the

The bridge where the Mayfair Branch crossed the North Shore Channel is still standing.

Also, I always find your column interesting and informative, but your Dec. 27 column had some confusing items. Your first item states: “The plan is to consolidate several station stops on the Red Line [and Purple Line]. In Evanston, consolidating the eight stops would reduce the number of stops to six but add two station entrances. The Foster Street stop would be extended so that riders would be able to use Church Street and Gaffield Place as secondary entrances. Similarly, Madison Street would be a secondary entrance for the South Boulevard stop.”

It isn’t clear to me which two Purple Line stops are being considered for elimination. Based on material I can find online, it appears that the stations which might be eliminated are Foster and South Boulevard. This is mentioned as a theoretical possibility on page 9 of the document link below from January, 2011. Is there something more recent?

The map which appears adjacent to the above text also shows a secondary entrance for Dempster at Greenwood.

Brian Derstine, a graduate student at UIC, wrote about a study he conducted examining the walking times to Purple and Red Line stations and the impact of possible station consolidation. Mr. Derstine concluded that closing Foster probably made sense, but closing South Boulevard did not. More details about his study can be found here:

– Robert LeBailley

From TG: Thank you for your letter and explanations, Mr. LeBailley. It does appear that Foster and possibly South Boulevard may be eliminated as stops, though access from those [possibly-soon-to-be-former] stations would be preserved in some way and perhaps enhanced. TG apologizes for the lack of clarity. And thanks to you as well for the EJE/CNW/Mayfair clarification.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that it would be nice to hear from readers about their New Year’s traffic resolutions. Here are a couple of examples:
“I will not honk at stop lights or other non-emergencies.”  “I will stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the street.”

Send your thoughts and comments and traffic resolultions to us at We are here to listen.