… that street-sweeping, which was supposed to began earlier this week, was postponed because of the weather. Even though snow season may not be over, this could be a good move. With the ice and snow, rain and melting, the street drains need to be clear. As with last year, the street-sweeping season will be extended later into the fall than in many previous years. The City suggests that residents sign up for text message or email notifications for street-sweeping at cityofevanston.org/streetcleaning. But drivers and parkers should be aware of the steep (now steeper) penalty for misparking on street-cleaning day – $75.
… that there are a few types of potholes around (TG’s nomenclature) – the linear, which seem to follow a fault in the pavement; the basin, which probably needs no explanation; and the inchoate – the ones just beginning now near the end of winter but seem to have a future here. Send pix of an interesting pothole to firstname.lastname@example.org. Including the location would likely also help the street department.
… that construction has begun on the clearwell project – replacing the 84-year-old 5 million-gallon storage tank under a parking lot at NU. The City is footing the entire bill – $19,213,700. Instead of GO bonds, though the City will have a $20 million loan at 1.84% from the Illinois Environmental Protection Agency’s Public Water Supply Loan Program. It’s expected that this will be a two-year project. Access to the NU campus via Lincoln will be somewhat limited – and at times suspended for a while. Employees, students and visitors should be alert for signs, which are promised to be posted 48 hours in advance.
… that, speaking of construction, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd. (has) received recognition from the American Public Works Association. The Chicago Avenue/Sheridan Road Multi-Modal Corridor Improvement project, led by Burke, was selected Public Works Project of the Year in the Transportation category between $5 million and $25 million.
… that gas prices in Chicago rose 11 cents per gallon last week, according to GasBuddy’s recent survey of 1,437 stations in Chicago. This compares with the national average that has increased 6.1 cents per gallon versus last week to $2.39 per gallon, according to GasBuddy. Including that change, prices yesterday were 3.3 cents per gallon lower than a year ago and are 33.0 cents per gallon higher than a month ago.
“Gasoline prices saw their biggest weekly jump of 2019 with the national average now at its highest point since mid-December, as oil prices continue to advance, while such jumps are in line with expectations, that doesn’t make them any easier to digest,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy. He said it looks like prices will continue to rise for a while, “but average gas prices should remain lower than their year-ago levels for now and the annual spring surge we see at gas pumps will likely not be as bad as we’ve seen in years past.”
From our readers: TG: Here is a letter sent to the Mayor, the aldermen and the City Manager:
“With great dismay I learned about Union Pacific’s refusal to repaint the eyesore overpass at Emerson/Ridge. I have some thoughts – perhaps whimsical but also perhaps practical and effective – about a solution. First, I need to know the facts. My understanding is that the overpass is the property of Union Pacific, but it insists that Evanston pay for any repainting on the grounds that this is an ‘aesthetic’ improvement.
I am somewhat perplexed here, since I thought that painting is also an essential element of maintenance to prevent rust and corrosion. Also, my understanding is that, notwithstanding its ownership, Union Pacific is amenable – and indeed encourages – Evanston to do the painting, provided it is at the City’s expense. Please advise if my understandings are correct.
If these understandings are correct, my “modest proposal” is to take Union Pacific at its word – and shame them into doing the right thing. The City should agree to do “some” painting on the overpass. The City should plan to partially paint the overpass – with a sign in yellow or red paint in the biggest possible letters: “This eyesore overpass is brought to you by Union Pacific.” If space permits (and there is no legal obstacle) I would suggest that the sign also add: “If concerned, contact [name of Union Pacific President or other appropriate high official] at [telephone number].”
Given the nature and intention of this work, there will be no need for any pre-painting prep. This job, which has no need for permanence, can be done cheaply by student volunteers or others, who don’t have to be very skilled or expensive.
Prior to undertaking this work, the City could contact Union Pacific to advise of its intentions. A company that spends enormous sums on P.R. surely will be able and eager to come up with the $300k needed to avoid such embarrassing negative publicity. Please let me know your thoughts. – James K. Genden
From TG: Interesting idea, Mr. Genden, and TG suspects there would be no shortage of volunteers for such a project. TG understands that you heard from the Mayor, who said he feels “strongly that UP should pay to beautify their structures.
… First and foremost, those viaducts must be inspected and be structurally sound. That responsibility resides with UP, and I am comfortable with them assuming that responsibility. I do not believe Evanston should be in the business of spending our taxpayers’ money to confirm that their viaducts are structurally sound. Presumably, UP would not run rails on lines that aren’t structurally sound. I do think the City should recieve written confirmation from UP about the structural soundness of the viaducts, and recently we have made a request to receive such confirmation.” The Mayor also said he is “not a fan of public shaming” and hopes that positive, personal conversations will help. The relationship between the UP and the City does not seem to be symbiotic. UP still has those billboards on the embankment – and how long has it been since there was a coffee shop at the Central Street Metra station?
The Traffic Guy thinks…
… that it would be nice to have one last winter snow blanket the ground before March exposes winter’s detritus. Popping up among the debris, of course, will be snowdrops, crocus and aconite. Happy soon-it-will-be-spring, everyone.