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home : columns July 22, 2017

6/28/2017 5:25:00 PM
The Traffic Guy hears ...
Sand witches on hand to celebrate the solstice and greet the summer.RoundTable photo
Sand witches on hand to celebrate the solstice and greet the summer.
RoundTable photo

… that the Sheridan Road construction project could be shut down tomorrow – you know, Springfield without a budget and all. The City Manager sent out a notice last week, ironically on the very day the second phase of the project was scheduled to begin: “The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has notified contractors and local jurisdictions that all IDOT funded projects must be shut down by June 30 in anticipation of not having budget authority to pay for projects beyond that date.
“IDOT, Plote Construction and the City have agreed to … do only the following prior to June 30: tree removal, temporary silt fencing, installation of ‘Road Construction Ahead’ signs; necessary relocations for temporary road widening; and a temporary traffic signal. Any additional work could not be completed and secured safely by June 30. Therefore the project will likely shut down prior to June 30 and remain stopped until there is budget authority to continue.” Does this sound familiar? On June 29, 2016, the RT ran this story: “By the end of the business day June 30 – the last day of the State of Illinois fiscal year – all projects bid by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) will be shut down. Two projects here, the Ridge/Emerson/Green Bay Road and the Dodge Avenue protected bike lane, will be shut down.” That shutdown, which lasted only a few days, cost the City (that is, the taxpayers) about $70,000.

… that there is a movement afoot to extend  by one hour the “residents only” parking hours in the Central Street business area west of Green Bay Road. The “visitor” parking ban would extend from 7 to 10 a.m. – not to 9 a.m., per the current restriction. This new ban (“extended restriction”) would affect the Harrison/Prairie area: the north side of Harrison from Hartrey to the alley east of Prairie, and both sides of Prairie from the alley south of Central to Lincoln.  

… that one way to thumb one’s nose at the construction shut-down and parking-restriction noise is to bike to work or to the train. Bike to Work week was last week, but it’s not exclusive – one can do that any time, albeit some times more comfortably than others. Here is a pic of some Main Dempster Mile shop-owners on their bikes to help kick off the festivities.  

… that crews from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District of Greater Chicago are making minor repairs to the Church Street and the Main Street bridges over the North Shore Channel (what many call “the canal”). Replacing five bolts on the Church Street bridge last week necessitated a temporary lane closure. This week’s work, replacing a small section of the sidewalk approach on the south side and some minor work on a rail post, required that sidewalk to be closed for a few days.

… that there are four new Little Free Libraries in the Fifth Ward, thanks to a grant from the McArthur Foundation – at least two of them in parks, Fireman’s and Twiggs.
Speaking of Twiggs Park, the new basketball court there should be completely renovated by now. According to information from the City, “the project is being accomplished through a partnership with Northwestern University and an athletic sponsor, energy company Dynegy, at no cost to the City.”

… that a mural might be put on the south façade of the E2 parking garage, that huge apartment complex along Emerson from Oak to Maple.

… that the peregrine banding scheduled for this morning was cancelled, because the falcons, Squawker, Fay, and the last living chick, have abandoned the nest. Despite some reservations about the possibility, there were three eggs this year; one did not hatch, the second one died, and everyone hopes the third one will soar.

From our readers: TG: Maybe your powers can accomplish what my emails and personal suggestions to the City’s Parking Department and even the City Manager could not get done. I have a parking permit for the garage under the hotel. Once again, as I was leaving, there were people standing at the pay station wondering where in downtown Evanston someone could park for more than two hours. As you know – street and this garage parking are limited to only two hours. I have suggested many times, that in the Sherman Garage at the pay station, the City put up a sign with a map to the large parking garage(s). Might also be a good idea to have a few of those signs around the streets too. Not everyone coming from outside Evanston knows about the parking garages. I understand that parking tickets are a nice revenue source, but it is definitely not visitor-friendly. I know that our City Manager thought it was a good idea about a year ago … but I’m still waiting for someone to put up a map or directions to the parking garage(s) where cars can stay longer than two hours. Can you help?  – Sigrid Pilgrim

From TG: Thank you for the letter and suggestion, Ms. Pilgrim. TG agrees with you about letting folks know where they can park for more than two hours. If the City really wants to help businesses, it should make it easy for patrons to be here. Perhaps the times for the under-the-hotel lot could be expanded.

TG: I am afraid I’m going to have to add to the many emails that have poured into your inbox regarding the new intersection configuration at Emerson/Green Bay/Ridge. I thought I would wait to see if they would be able to fix the congestion and flow but that has not occurred. Instead, they’ve somehow managed to make it worse (if that’s possible).
The myriad of left turn lanes and arrows have created bottle necks in all of the pass-through lanes and often I will see left turn arrows engaged with no car in the left turn lane. Haven’t they installed “smart” lights that are tripped when a car passes into the lane? Clearly, this isn’t happening. Frankly, I’m not sure why they are so concerned about the one or two cars that may happen to turn left either north or south onto Ridge from Emerson. Why not just let them wait until the through traffic has passed rather than taking up an entire lane and causing congestion because all of the other cars are waiting to pass through the intersection? This is clearly a case of overkill on controlling traffic flow.
However, the reason I write is the new right-turn arrows that prevent you from turning right onto Green Bay Road from westbound Emerson even when there is a green light! What? What purpose does this serve other than to make the intersection even more congested and dangerous? Now cars are waiting east of Ridge for multiple lights for that right turn lane to clear holding up all of the traffic that wants to go east on Emerson. I tried to figure out why they installed these lights and my only guess is because of the pedestrian walk just north of there that crosses Green Bay Road toward Hecky’s. Is this the case?
Please help me understand why this once complicated-yet-flowing intersection (albeit a little dicey at times) has been so thoroughly convoluted? I am very seriously contemplating taking my gym membership and all other commerce transactions I do in downtown Evanston to other locations just to avoid the extraordinary waste of time that occurs each time I try to navigate this unavoidable quagmire.  -- David Ladd

From TG: Oh, please do not take out your frustration on the businesses (see TG’s response to Ms. Pilgrim, above).  The City has to take care of this as well. TG thinks the signs in the road that say “GB Only” and “Ridge Only” are very good solutions to the northbound-drivers mess there. There surely is a solution.

The Traffic Guy thinks …

… Summer is officially open.

… that, coming in just two days: a chance to put chairs out on Central Street to reserve space for watching the Fourth of July parade.

Happy Fourth to everyone.

Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, July 5, 2017
Comment by: Kathy Kovacic

Why is it that when the City has turned Dodge into a major source of driver frustration and traffic congestion by the addition of bollards and bike lanes, those few bicyclists who do ride on Dodge still insist on using the sidewalks for bicycling?

What a waste of tax dollars to pander to bicyclists who won't even take advantage of their privileges.

Posted: Tuesday, July 4, 2017
Comment by: Cassandra Smith

In response to Mr. David Ladd and his concern on the right turn arrows for Emerson/Green Bay/Ridge intersection. Mr. Ladd I live right there next to Heckys and use that intersection almost daily to commute via car and foot through my neighborhood into Evanston. Those right turn arrows have been a saving grace for pedestrians who commute to the University and into downtown from the surrounding neighborhood. That is a high pedestrian intersection and before those arrows, cars were flying around those corners. My son and I had nearly gotten hit multiple times going to the lake, gym, movies. It was like playing Russian roulette even when we had the walk sign. I know that intersection is still not perfect but it is much better. Believe me I had to wake up to it everyday while it was under construction. Just take a deep breath and know Evanston tries to make things friendly for all. Those arrows are in place to protect the people who are not in metal cars to protect them while in my beautiful city.

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