This photo from the City of Evanston shows the area spalled by CTA crews after some debris fell onto the sidewalk in mid-February.

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Hello, Evanston, on this Leap Day 2020. Yesterday, Feb. 28, the water temperature in Lake Michigan was 36 at the Chicago shore and 35 in the crib, about a mile off-shore, 60 feet below the surface of the water. The new Robert Crown Center officially opens today. The renowned writer and native Evanstonian Charles Johnson will be at Fleetwood-Jourdain at noon; and the exhibit on black veterans at the Main Library closes today.

The next two days are expected to be mild, and, if further proof were needed that winter is waning, Lenten roses are blooming again.

So, is Leap Year a necessity or is it a nicety or is it really found time, TG wondered. Deanna Conners posted in Human World on Feb. 29, “If there were no leap years, eventually February would be a summer month for the Northern Hemisphere.” Well, given that the calendar is a human construct and the universe is not,

something has to give in the name of synchronization. The Earth takes 365. 25 days to orbit the sun, and every four years, that quarter day is amassed, incorporated into the calendar and tagged onto the shortest month, she wrote. Were that extra day not added every four years, she wrote, “the calendar year would drift away from the solar year and the drift would add up quickly. For example, without correction the calendar year would be off by about one day after four years. It’d be off by about 25 days after 100 years.”

Ms. Conners adds a bit of history: that, with the advice of the Alexandrian astronomer, Julius Caesar (creator of the Julian Calendar) added leap days beginning in 46 BCE. In 1582, Pope Gregory revised the Julian Calendar into the Gregorian calendar, with the assistance of the German mathematician and astronomer Christopher Clavius. That calendar is considered the “civil” international standard in many countries. 

In other matters, the Traffic Guy hears …

… that City Council has contracted with Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd, Inc. for the Oakton Street Corridor Improvement Study. Burke Engineering seems to be the City’s go-to company for these kinds of services. Readers will remember that this is the company that finished the Fountain Square project after the City, well, disengaged the first company. The study will come up with suggested improvements for Oakton between Asbury and the City limits. Herrera Landscape and Snow Removal, Inc., will maintain the rain gardens

… that the CTA did some repair work on a wall of the Davis Street viaduct a couple of weeks ago, after debris fell onto the sidewalk there. The Police reported the falling concrete, and no injuries or damage were apparent.

… that the City will match funds with the Illinois Department of Transportation for the Howard Street resurfacing project and other capital projects. The City’s funds will entail about $900,000 in general obligation bonds this year and $1.7 million in GO bonds next year, about $2 million from the Water Fund and the Sewer Fund and $6.5 million in federal Surface Transportation Program grant funds, plus $250,000 from the City of Chicago transferred directly to the City of Evanston. Howard Street is gonna be beautiful.

… that other streets will receive some improvements once construction season resumes (quite soon, quite likely). Funds for these improvements will be from the Motor Fuel Tax Fund – money collected on the purchase of gasoline, diesel fuel, etc., and rebated to municipalities. The City has also applied for Surface Transportation Program Funds from the North Shore Council of Mayors for Green Bay Road Improvements from McCormick to Isabella. The grant would cover 70% of the cost of the $5 million improvements, leaving the remaining 30%, about $1.5 million, to the City.

… that the City is applying for funds to renovate the bike path in Lovelace Park. The ask is for $200,000 from the Illinois Bicycle Path Grant Program of the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) for the Lovelace Park Bike Path Renovation Project. Should the City receive the grant from IDNR, it would still need to kick in $50,000 from 2020 GO bonds and use $150,000 from the Good Neighbor Fund that NU has given annually to the City for the past few years.

… that the City is now protecting old trees on private property. An amendment to the Tree Preservation ordinance would apply to trees 25 inches in diameter at breast height (dbh) and larger (20 inches dbh or larger for oak and hickory species) on private property when they are at risk of being damaged or removed because of new construction or renovations that  would increase the amount of impervious surface by more than 600 square feet.

… that street-cleaning begins March 2. Wake up, Evanston – heed those signs.

… that the City has added a new feature to the ParkEvanston mobile app, so that the time paid for can be applied to any parking space. That is, one could, for example, pay for a couple of hours of parking through the app, have breakfast on Maple, shop downtown or on Main, Dempster or Central and stop for coffee somewhere. 

… that WTTW, Chicago’s public television station, will air the documentary “Chicago by L” with Evanstonian Geoffrey Baer, who guides viewers to delightful people and places, mostly in the Chicago area. It’s at 7:30 on March 4.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that March may come in like a lamb – as temperatures are expected in the 60s on March 1 – but it could be a lion (or a bear) for those who don’t remember that street cleaning begins March 2. Residents should heed the posted signs and remember that, even if the street-sweeper has passed by, that does not mean it is OK to park before the permitted time.

… that everyone should participate in the census. Between March 12 and 20, residents will receive a mailed invitation asking them to complete the 2020 U.S. Census. Responses can be online or by phone or mail. Here are a couple of vital things to keep in mind: First, answers are confidential. Second, participation is important to help ensure that Evanston receives its fair share of federal funding over the next decade.

Fifty years of data show spring and fall bird migrations changing

Posted by EarthSky in EARTH | February 25, 2020

Bird-banding data in North America shows a spring migration pattern that’s become progressively earlier with each of the last 5 decades, and a fall migration that’s lasting longer than 50 years ago.

A growing body of research shows that birds’ spring migration has been getting earlier and earlier in recent decades. New research from The Auk: Ornithological Advances on black-throated blue warblers, a common songbird that migrates from Canada and the eastern U.S. to Central America and back every year, uses 50 years of bird-banding data to add another piece to the puzzle, showing that little-studied fall migration patterns have been shifting over time as well.

Loyola Marymount University’s Kristen Covino and her colleagues used data, housed at the USGS Bird Banding Laboratory, about migrating black-throated blue warblers between 1965 and 2015. Across the United States, researchers working with this program safely capture migrating birds, collect data on them, and fit them with metal leg bands with unique codes that allow them to be identified if they’re captured again. Analyzing almost 150,000 individual records, Covino and her colleagues found that the timing of the birds’ spring migration has advanced over the last 50 years, with early migrants passing through banding sites approximately one day earlier each decade. Crucially, their data also covered fall migration, which has been less well-studied, and found that while the timing of the peak of fall migration hasn’t changed, fall migration takes longer today than it did 50 years ago.

The North American Bird Banding Program is one of the largest historical datasets on migratory birds, including records for over 38 million songbirds banded since 1960.