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July 23, 2019

7/10/2019 4:54:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
Some residents and businesses celebrate pride leading into Pridefest.
Some residents and businesses celebrate pride leading into Pridefest.

… that the water pumping station at Church and McDaniel is getting close to completion. It could be operational by fall.

… that, after about 10 years without a bill for statewide capital improvements, Illinois now has a law, “Rebuild Illinois,” for infrastructure improvements across the State. Up here in the Chicago area, folks at the Regional Transit Authority are hoping that some of the money will go toward public transportation. TG hopes some of those infrastructure funds will go toward improving bridges and overpasses in Evanston.  

… that, even without Statewide funds, the City continues its patch, patch, patching. Last week crews were on Chicago and Green Bay repairing the asphalt.

… that again this year, folks were out on Central Street before the legal hour of 6 a.m., staking their claims to a bit of parade-watching turf.

… that the callousness of the City toward parking for visitors – including residents “visiting” different parts of the City – continues to be revealed.  A recent measure by the City allowed 22 “residents only” parking signs to be removed last week, replaced with signs that prohibit overnight parking (9 p.m.-6 a.m.). While this seems like a positive measure – and it is – it is also a very, very belated one. The 22 signs had been put in 2015 as a pilot program. But they were allowed to remain and remain and remain – for almost four years.

… that last month, gas prices in the Chicago area were unchanged as compared to prices a year ago, coming down 16.6 cents per gallon during June – this according to GasBuddy.com and its weekly survey of 1, 437 gas stations in the area. The average price GasBuddy found was $3.12 per gallon, as compared to $3.13 per gallon this time in 2018.  But – oops – wasn’t that just days before Illinois almost doubled its motor fuel tax from 19 cents per gallon to 34 cents per gallon – on top of the 6.25% sales tax on gasoline? This could be another incentive to use bicycles or electric cars.

… that rainfall in June, statewide, was 1.18 inches above the long-term average, according to information from Brian Kerschner, spokesperson for the Illinois State Climatologist Office at the University of Illinois’ Illinois State Water Survey. Mr. Kerschner also reports that, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, “water levels in the Lake Michigan-Huron system have risen by nearly five inches throughout the month. By the end of June, average water levels in the Lake Michigan-Huron system were reported to be 33 inches, or about 2.75 feet above the historical June average. These levels set a new June record by nearly two inches. Water levels of this magnitude haven’t been exceeded since 1986. This also marks the eighth consecutive month in which no part of Illinois has been listed as in drought or
abnormally dry by the U.S. Drought Monitor and the seventh consecutive month with above average statewide precipitation.”

… that with the warm weather, picnics abound, and with picnics, of course, ants. Charlie Durant, Max John and Rob Hammond, scholars at the University of Leicester, England, have studied ants and found that most ants seen around are female and that queen ants can live for decades – males, for a week.  

From our readers: TG: All downtown restaurants lock or chain their outdoor chairs and tables against theft. Why are the City’s new pastel colored chairs and tables at Fountain Square unlocked and unchained and highly“stealable?”
– Martha Rosenberg
From TG: Thank you, Ms. Rosenberg. TG appreciates your point but appreciates even more sentiment of City staff to “trust the good nature of residents,” in making the decision not to lock down the furniture at Fountain Square. City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz provided the information. Let’s hope the goodwill continues on both sides.

TG: Further complaints about Lovelace Park: Not only are the tennis courts inoperative, but the cut grass is allowed to pile up in clumps, which looks ugly and kills the grass underneath. What gives with maintenance there?
–  Disgruntled Park User
From TG: The intensive rain in the last few weeks deterred crews from cutting the grass. The clumps will dry up and become one with the dirt.

TG: I really enjoy the column, but I disagree regarding the parking changes. I appreciate the changes.
We should first remember that the main reason for parking enforcement is not revenue generation, but to provide available parking to residents and businesses. Free parking everywhere simply leads to people camping out for long times in parking places and leaving nothing for residents
or business customers.
Let me give an example. I am a big supporter of Lemoi Hardware. They always have plenty of help available and they stock small items that the big box stores can’t be bothered with. However,
in recent years, I could never find parking on the blocks on Davis Street in front of the store. I started parking (free for an hour) in the garage at Davis and Benson. However, that only worked for small items.
Now, after the parking changes, there is more turnover. There is usually an available space or two on the block. I recently parked there to load up $90 worth of heavy birdseed bags and fertilizer.  
If someone believes Evanston parking is“too expensive” just drive around downtown and see if there are lots of available spaces. Parking availability is still limited.  This shows me that the parking system is just about right.
I love the parking app. I’ve been using it and its twin for Chicago for years. I have never had an issue. Sure there is a $.035 convenience fee for short term stays, but it is totally worth it. Who carries coins anymore? It’s a cashless world now. The app remembers your license plate and also your recent zones. Tap, tap, tap, you’re done.  
Come on curmudgeons, give up your coin purses and join me in the 21st century. I’m in my 70s. I bought a smart phone in Walmart for $25. Give up your landline and use the money for your smartphone.
I have used pre-paid cell service for years and I am sure it is less than what most landline users pay.  
Evanston needed to move on from 20th century technology like individual parking meters that need to be continually manually serviced to empty coins, replace batteries and fix credit card readers.
Just as when the CTA went to Ventra cards, the curmudgeons will continue to complain until finally even they must agree this is better than feeding in coins. -- Rob Budge

From TG: How refreshing, Mr. Budge, to hear something that’s not a complaint about parking. Thank you.

TG: It’s 5:40 p.m. … Can I park for two hours or four hours? – Craig Conover

From TG: Mr. Conover, this photo is a great example of Evanston’s parking mess. Thank you for helping everyone put pressure on the City to address the Citywide parking fiasco.

TG: We received a violation notice that our address was not displayed on the alley side of our home, re-inspection will occur on July 8. Is this okay?
 – Steve Torres, Native San Franciscan

From TG: Thank you for your inquiry, Mr. Torres, and for your confidence that TG would know the answer. Section 304 of the City Code states, regarding “alley frontage identification”: “Buildings shall have approved address numbers placed in a position to be plainly legible and visible from the alley when a premises abuts an alley. Premises shall have the address placed on garages when present or on the principal structure. These numbers shall contrast with their background. Address numbers shall be Arabic numerals or alphabet letters. Numbers shall be a minimum of 4 inches (102 mm) high with a minimum stroke width of 0.5 inch (12.6 mm).” TG understands your inspection will have passed by the time this paper goes to press (and that you have painted over the question)  but decided to print it as information for others who may not understand the necessity of address identification in an alley, in general for public safety reasons.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… that the City’s “extension” of Pride activities until July seemed a bit more like “We forgot” than “We celebrate.” The Main-Dempster Mile did adorn its shopping area with rainbow flags and ribbons. TG, like others, awaits Evanston’s Pride- fest on July25.

… hope everyone had a nice Fourth of July and holiday weekend. Although summer just started, it always seems like the Fourth marks the middle, and things start winding down afterward. But there are still beaches, bike trails, concerts and dancing to see the summer to a close. Party on.



Reader Comments

Posted: Sunday, July 14, 2019
Comment by: Kathy Stohrer

Rob Budge spoke well about the parking situation, but there are still problems. My regular meter usage was a nickel for three minutes at the post office to check a box. Now I have to park several blocks away, and it takes at least twenty minutes instead of three (nasty in the rain). I’m not paying a “convenience fee” for three minutes. Why not have short-term meters at the post office? Any room for a free customer lot, post office use only?



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