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… that, while the RT was having a good time with Dirk Cumulo’s April Fool stories earlier this month, the City of Evanston pranked the RT, pulling up a couple of our newspaper boxes without notice (one already filled with that day’s new edition). The higher-ups appeared to have been as surprised as we were about their removal and they quickly replaced the boxes, newspapers and all.

… that Evanston senior citizens (55+) are invited to bring their cars or other vehicles to the James Park parking lot between 10 and 2 on May 1 for “Car Fit,” a program that helps seniors determine whether their cars are properly adjusted to their abilities and challenges. In encouraging seniors to come to Car Fit, the City notes “Older drivers are often the safest drivers, in that they are more likely to wear their seat belts and less likely to speed or drink and drive. However, older drivers are more likely to be killed or seriously injured when a crash does occur due to the greater fragility of their aging bodies.”

… that, speaking of parking lots, the City will hire Chicagoland Paving, Inc., of Lake Zurich to fix up the parking lot at 717 Howard and Parking Lot #51 in Tallmadge Park, behind the Noyes Cultural Arts Center.

… that the City’s next move along Emerson Street is the coordination of the traffic signals there, where the average daily traffic is estimated at 13,000-16,000 vehicles.

Readers may remember that some of this was talked about when the E2 apartments were being built. And now that 831 is soaring above Emerson, traffic is likely to increase and so will the need for regulation. The project involves modernizing and connecting three signals on Emerson – those at Emerson/Elgin, Maple and Benson – as well as one on Dodge at Emerson. “Modernization” includes LED lighting and “traffic preemption” for emergency vehicles. Heck and Company of Wheeling and Terra of Chicago will each have a contract for a part of this million-dollar-plus project. Most of the funding will come from general obligation (GO) bonds issued this year for capital projects. The 831 development will kick in $20,000, and the 1890 Maple project $64,000.

… that, farther south, Landmark Contractors of Huntley will get the $2 million contract for the Main Street Corridor Improvement Project, which involves modernization of the Main/McDaniel lights and a new signal at the easternmost driveway outlet of Food 4 Less.
The City notes that other improvements will involve extending the sidewalk on the south side of Main from the shopping center to Hartrey, installing new LED street lights, removing and replacing trees, extending storm sewers as needed, resurfacing the roadways and “improving” the lane lines and other pavement markings.

… that the patch, patch, patching of potholes will continue with A. Johnson Paving Company of Arlington Heights; Patriot Pavement Maintenance of Des Plaines will seal cracks in the pavement for a year; and then Precision Pavement Markings of Elgin will add the lines and stripes around town.

… that four new City vehicles for the Public Works Agency and the Police Department will soon be on the streets: a 2019 Ford Pickup with Service Body (from Currie Motors of Frankfort), a 2019 Peterbilt Dump Truck and a 2019 Peterbilt 11-Yard Refuse Truck (from JX Peterbilt of Wadsworth) and a BMW Motorcycle (from Schlossmann Motorcycles of Milwaukee)

… that gasoline prices here rose 3.7 cents per gallon earlier this month, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 1,437 stations on April 1. “There’s no fooling motorists, gas prices have continued to surge. For the seventh straight week the national average has continued to rise, unabated, due to seasonal impacts. The run-up this spring has felt worse than prior years, and thus far, the national average is up nearly 50 cents per gallon from our 2019 low. Unfortunately, this is a rut we’ll be stuck in yet for at least a few more weeks,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy.

… that the Illinois State Climatologist’s office reports that a significant amount of rainfall last month led to above-normal soil moisture in Illinois and major flooding events on many local streams and rivers. The preliminary data for state-wide average precipitation for March showed 4.16 inches, 1.20 inches above the longterm average. The heaviest March precipitation fell across the central and southern portions of the state, where 4 to 6 inches were common. Five stations in these regions reported more than 6 inches of precipitation for the month. Totals were lower in northern Illinois with generally 1.5 to 3 inches. The lowest totals for the month occurred along the Illinois/Wisconsin border.
Soil-moisture profiles across Illinois remain in the 90th percentile or higher heading into April. This leaves soil conditions favorable for spring runoff, an ever-growing concern for the agricultural community. The climatologist’s office also reports, “The National Weather Service spring flood outlook places the entire state in its flood risk zone. Eastern and central Illinois are subject to a minor flood risk, while western, extreme northern, and southern portions of the state are in a moderate flood risk zone. … Looking ahead at the rest of April 2019, the Climate Prediction Center is favoring probabilities of above average temperatures statewide.
This is a welcome change compared to April 2018, which ranked as the second coldest April in state history.”

From our readers: TG: What are the chances that Evanston will ban gas-powered leaf blowers? The noise and exhaust are environmental hazards and quality of life issues. The noise pollution in Evanston April through November is off the charts. James Fallows’s article about leaf blowers in the April edition of Harpers has a lot more information about this. – Andy Weingartner

From TG: Not for a while, TG would guess, Mr. Weingartner. You and other readers may already know that under section 9-5-20 (D) of the City Code, the use of gas-powered backpack-mounted or hand-held leaf blowers is allowed March 30 – May 15 and Sept. 30 through the first Thursday of December. Permitted hours of operation are 7 a.m.- 9 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m.- 5 p.m. weekends and holidays. The pertinent section of the code mandates a $100 fine when “any person … uses a leaf blower or any person … permits the private or commercial use of a leaf blower on their property during restricted days or times.”
Enforcing the ordinance is tough, though, with so many other violations, etc. occupying police officers’ time. TG thinks the best solution would be for those who use leaf-blowers or hire lawn services, etc., that use them simply to invest a little more time or money, or both, and either rake the leaves themselves or tell the companies they are willing to pay a little more to have the crews use rakes instead of leaf-blowers.

TG: Perhaps you can prod Pace into adding stop numbers so we can text to find out arrival times. Every Pace bus stop I use in Evanston is missing the stop number. Thank you. – James Romenesko

From TG: That is certainly a valuable idea, Mr. Romenesko, but TG thinks you have overvalued our influence. TG will pass along your suggestion, however. Keep us posted as to how things come out.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that, as long as the City is paying for new pavement markings in various places around town, perhaps the Powers That Be would consider re-marking Dodge. TG wonders what the City’s Traffic Guys would think of having just one protected bike lane on Dodge but making it two-way, then re-striping the lanes and parking spaces accordingly. It seems that would be safer, since now bicyclers and skateboarders seem to choose either the southbound or northbound lane according to convenience, not according to the marked direction.