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… that, as writers have noted elsewhere, the lockdown put nature on display so patently most could not help notice the wildlife getting a little braver. At the lakefill, the goose family is growing, and the beavers make an almost daily appearance at dawn. A rare yellow-headed blackbird alit on Noyes Street last month, and by now most people know about the great-horned owl family in northwest Evanston.

… that volunteers are working to make a natural nature path in the Ladd Arboretum, nearer the canal than the bike path. Piles of woodchips become the surface of a quieter and somewhat secluded path between Bridge and Green Bay.

… that this month and next month, members of the Fire Department, as they do every year, will be testing all 1,400 fire hydrants across the City.

… that Evanston has been designated a Gold Walk Friendly Community by the Walk Friendly Communities program, which is managed by  the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center (HSRC) and sponsored by FedEx. Other communities in this category are Boulder, Colo., Charlottesville, Va., and Somerville, Mass. The community earned the distinction because it has a full-time Transportation and Mobility Coordinator, policies and plans that focus on infrastructure and multi-use of streets, environmental stewardship goals, the We’re Out Walking program and the annual Evanston Streets Alive event.

… that, speaking of streets, Johnson Paving of Arlington Heights will spend the next few months resurfacing street segments in 13 places, patching the roadway base, resurfacing the street with asphalt, restoring parkways, fixing broken curbs and replacing curb ramps. Crews will be working on Callan between Mulford and Hull, Chancellor between Broadway and Eastwood, Grant between Crawford and Cowper, Hartrey from the dead end south to Greenleaf, Lincolnwood between Park and Isabella, Lyons between Darrow and the dead end east, Madison between Dodge and Dewey, Park between Central and Hurd and between Hurd and Lincolnwood, Pioneer between Simpson and Payne and between Noyes and Grant, and Wesley between Grove and Davis. Crews will also patch deteriorated section of Elgin from Benson to Orrington and Orrington from Davis to Clark. And then there’s the striping and marking work, to be completed at more than 175 locations. Drivers should be alert to flaggers, and parkers to temporary “No Parking” signs. Crews will for the most part be using thermoplastic striping material, which is supposed to last three to five years.

… the McGill Construction of Frankfort received the contract to rehab the parking lot at the Service Center, 2020 Asbury.

… that moisture levels in Illinois soils rose toward the end of May because of the mid-month rains, according to information from Jennie Atkins, Water and Atmospheric Resources Monitoring program manager at the Illinois State Water Survey. Soil moisture remains high at depths of 20-inches and greater, Dr. Atkins reports.

… that there will be three eclipses in this lunar month, starting with a penumbral eclipse tomorrow, followed by an annular solar eclipse on June 21, the first whole day of summer, and an penumbral lunar eclipse on July 5. The June eclipses will not be visible in this area; if the night of July 4 is clear, Evanstonians might see an oval of the moon shaded out at the top somewhere around midnight.

… that CNN recently reported the good and the bad of decreased air travel because of the COVID-19 pandemic: “It’s no secret that the drastic change in traffic and flight volume across the world has been a boon for the environment. However, the pandemic could end up endangering the climate in other ways.” The International Energy Agency, according to CNN, says investments in global energy could plunge by $400 billion, as part of the economic fallout of the crisis. And there is always the question of how much people will have learned from this. How easy will it be for poorer countries to shun expensive green energy and return to using cheaper coal and fossil fuels? And how easy for people to fall back into planet-harming laziness.

… that some non-nutritional aspects of puffed rice, and Rice Krispies in particular, have been the subject of experiments and theoretics, the New York Times reported on May 12. Randall Monroe, author of “How To: Absurd Scientific Advice for Common Real-World Problems” answered a question from a reader in Australia: “Would a large Rice Krispie square meet current guidelines for temporary highway traffic barriers?” The short answer is “No,” and the long answer has a lot of snap, crackle and pop … Mr. Monroe responded that the crushability properties of puffed rice has been studied by scientists interested in how it fractures – and applying that data to ascertain how soil crumbles under pressure. This information is of course important for structures that need solid foundations, such as dams and retaining walls. Because the RK treats are, well, glued with marshmallow something, they are more solid than the grains themselves. And since they tend to dry out, a Rice Krispie Treat traffic barrier might become too solid to absorb the impact of an automobile. And if the RKT traffic barrier exploded on impact, what a mess for the car and a treat for the ants, the article concludes.

From our readers:

I wish the City of Evanston would prohibit Union Pacific from posting billboards on the right-of-way along Green Bay Road and at Clark/Oak.  Especially since we claim we don’t want Evanston looking like Chicago.  Does the U/P give Evanston a piece of the pie?  If the U/P won’t fix their bridges then good-bye to billboards, it’s only fair.

Matt Siegel

From TG: Thank you, Mr. Siegel. Your proposal seems fair, but, unfortunately, it is unworkable. The City has no leverage; the billboards are located on Union Pacific, not City, property. Sat Nagar, Senior Project Manager of Capital Planning & Engineering in the City’s Public Works Agency, responded to your question that the City receives no income from the billboards and has no control over them.

Jessica Hyink, the City’s Mobility and Transportation Coordinator wrote in response to your question: “Union Pacific leases the billboards on their property. This property is not the City of Evanston’s property, and the City does not receive any funding. Paul Zalmezak, the City’s Economic Development Manager, has actively worked to reduce the advertisements on UP property.”

It sure would be nice if the City could wrangle some “eyesore compensation” from the Union Pacific for those billboards.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that the conjunction of the erosion of so much of Evanston’s sandy shoreline with the absence of many Northwestern students from campus make this a perfect time for the City to finally take over Lincoln Street Beach. City officials have been curiously reluctant to assert the rights of the people of Evanston to this beach. Further delay is no friend to residents.

… that COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on almost everything but the Evanston spirit. Where else, really, might it be possible to have a 5,000-participant protest march where social distancing and decorum matched pace with passion, anger and frustration?