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A city-imposed detour for construction vehicles has put more truck traffic onto Sheridan Road in Evanston, where a cement truck heading to a Northwestern University construction project was involved in a fatal collision with a bicyclist on Thursday.

Residents living on a one-block stretch of Lincoln Street between Sherman and Orrington avenues complained to Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, about the truck traffic, and the city’s community development director, Mark Muenzer, persuaded university officials to tell the school’s construction contractors to make their delivery drivers follow the new, circuitous route.

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Sixteen single-family homes line the block spared truck traffic by the detour, while the detour route passes through some of the highest-density residential areas in the city — exposing a few thousand people to the additional truck traffic.

Asked about the basis for the detour, Muenzer noted the complaints from residents on Lincoln and said the city tries to keep truck traffic off residential streets as much as possible.

He said there are no load restrictions on Lincoln that would make it unsafe for trucks to traverse the street.

A city truck route map dated June 30 shows part of the detour route — Sherman Avenue, Elgin Road and Clark Street — as designated truck routes — but indicates that trucks are prohibited from Sheridan Road.

The detour also adds more than a mile-and-a-half to the distance trucks approaching from Central Street have to travel to get to the north campus construction projects.

Police examine the cement truck involved in Thursday’s accident. (Bob Parris photo).

Police reports so far indicate that the truck driver was not at fault in last Thursday’s fatal accident.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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18 Comments

  1. Stop the NIMBYs
    This is NIMBYism at its worst. Many more homes are affected by the noise on the long detour and trucks have to go through areas with some of the highest bike and pedestrian traffic, now with fatal consequences. I don’t understand why the city, which is supposed to represent all Evanstonians not just Judy Fiske’s NIMBY clients, acquiesced to this absurdity. The route should be changed immediately.

    1. This is outragous. Truly

      This is outragous. Truly shocking. The trucks should be rerounted to Lincoln immediately.

       

      1. I cannot agree more!
        I cannot agree more! Outrageous! Very very upsetting, no excuse for it. No management, just bowing for special interests. Shame!

    2. 1st Ward entitlement

      I absolutely agree with Matt. The changed route was apparently unnoticed by everyone but the privileged few on that block of Lincoln during the summer months. With the arrival of September and the thousands of undergraduates that returned to campus, the shortsightedness of the City in agreeing to the reroute has been tragically made apparent to all. The exponential increase in pedestrian and cyclist traffic, a fact every September, should not have been a surprise to the planners. Their disregard for the lives of 99% of Evanstonians, including the students, has wrought untold agony to a family and the larger community. Shame on you, Ms Fiske! Shame on the City staff that agreed to this deadly accommodation. A deep pall has settled over the 1st Ward; I hope the residents feel the shame of responsibility for the death of this young woman.

      1. Oh, please…

        There is nothing wrong with residents complaining to the city about construction traffic on their street. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say this probably even happens outside of the 1st ward. What should be called into question is the city’s response, which I agree appears irresponsible in terms of safety and inconsiderate of a far larger group of residents. Direct your breathless indignation someplace else.

    3. As a 1st Ward resident…

      As a 1st Ward resident for the last 4 years, I've never agreed with a single decision Judy Fiske has made. I voted for Tivador, the 1st Ward candidate in the last election and I will continue to vote for any other candidate that runs against her until she is out of office. 

    4. No logic to the solution

      Appears that a special interest, such as a campaign donor, friend, relative etc was satisfied because there is no logic to this solution. Shame on the city for agreeing to this. Evanston needs to function for everyone, not an entitled few.

       

  2. Solve one problem by creating a bigger one

    This is a good example of how a city official solves a perceived problem under pressure from a small group of tax-payers by creating a larger problem for the rest of us. So, trucks drive along a stretch that affects 16 families. The only logical solution for the community as a whole was to design an alternate route that affected less than 16 households, not more! As it is today, the "solution" affects many more, perhaps hundreds more! Unfortunately, that´s when clout trumps common good.

  3. Heads should roll

    OMG – this is insane. I can't believe this really happened.

    Look at the city approved route. It goes right through the heart of downtown and along Sheridan where tons of NU students traverse. Even though they are college students it's a school zone and they aren't the most sensible pedestrians. Some have dashed out in front of me – they cross everywhere on Sheridan.

    How in the world did this get approved. Heads should roll.

    Good reporting.

     

    1. Good reporting here

      Good reporting here. Evanston should be ashamed of for giving in to the whining of the First Ward and Judy Fiske. From my understanding, the cyclist was reckless, but this is completely ridiculous!!! There didn't need to be that much traffic on such busy streets.

    2. Horrifying
      Simply horrifying. Whether the NIMBYs or Ald. Fiske, if I knew I had any part in facilitating a student’s death through such a callous and self-serving action I’m certain I’d be unable to sleep at night.

  4. Good reporting. I hadn’t
    Good reporting. I hadn’t seen any info on the truck route detour up until this point.

    1. It would be interesting to

      It would be interesting to know NU's role in all of this.  I assume that they agreed to the change and thus instructed their contractors.  And this is NU's idea of community relations?  Can we have the NU perspective please?

  5. “NIMBY” Response to the Couch Agitators

     

    Folks – – the idle agitators and those 'outraged':

    Whilst the fatal bike-truck collision reported in this article is of course terribly tragic I’m finding the self-righteous indignation on this message board by anonymous grandstanders to be preposterous for the following reasons:

    – 1. The “detour” referred to in the article is not yet in effect.  “Trial” signs are only now going up on a number of east-west residential streets that include a raft of streets from Milbourn, Colfax on downwards – including Lincoln street.

    – 2. The construction truck route accessing the campus from Sheridan has been in place since this latest wave (of an endless wave) of construction on campus began several years ago.

    – 3. IF you perform a time/motion study of traffic in Evanston you will see the "vast majority of construction trucks in Evanston use Dempster to Chicago Ave or Elgin to Clark to Sheridan and then enter the campus at various points off Sheridan.  Accessibility for trucks into Evanston is controlled because only a few viaducts are high enough to allow safe passage”

    – 4. AirGas trucks, City Water department trucks and a broad assortment of loud, speeding, unwanted NWU traffic shall STILL uses Lincoln Street (at all hours of the day and night) … and this won’t be changing (unfortunately)

    – 5. The name calling of “NIMBY” for residents on ANY street in Evanston that have to put up with 14-wheel heavy-articulated trucks at 3am (yes!) using loud engine breaking, with reported side-swiping parked cars, and damage to below-ground water pipes is proposterous.  The houses SHAKE, there are cracks in ceilings, the residents deserve what EVERY Evanston resident deserves – a calm, safe, clean, and decent residence for families to enjoy and grow up in.

    Lincoln Street – between Orrington and Sherman – now has “16” family homes and 2/3rds of the homes have young kids / families impacted by loud / intrusive / dangerous / unwanted 3am truck traffic.  Make no mistake, these are trucks that are too wide to allow bidirectional traffic on a residential street.  The dangers are obvious to kids riding bicycles, playing ball in their front-yards or loading and unloading from their street-parked cars. 

    :: Is THIS not a “FATAL CRASH ROUTE” for cyclists, and kids playing and neighbors parked?

    During NWU games Lincoln Street “enjoys” DOZENS of NWU Wildcat school chartered school buses RACING (40mph) from the NWU campus to Ryan Field along Lincoln Street every hour each Saturday – with rolling / half-hearted intersection Stops.  They use Lincoln Street, they are NOT asked to use other streets – do YOU want them? 

    :: Is THIS not a “FATAL CRASH ROUTE” for cyclists, and kids playing and neighbors parked?

    You are venting at the wrong people – you are venting at FELLOW tax-payers : citizens with the same safety, noise, pollution, and environment fears as almost everyone else but rather than putting up with it .. decided to ask the City of Evanston for help.  This TRIAL proposal was a solution reviewed by the City and suggested as a solution for the FIVE (5) points raised above.

    I’d suggest … the frustrations of ALL Evanston citizens should be placed at the NWU and their endless construction – broadening, enlarging their campus with no end in sight and with little disregard for the city folk that have tried to tolerate the consequences for the last TEN YEARS.  Redirect your anger at the school if anywhere and ask yourselves WHAT does EVANSTON get out of it exactly?

    LASTLY – the 1st Ward Alderman Fiske – had a ward meeting in September – and was joined as usual by Evanston city officials including planners, law enforcement and community representatives … and the NWU were present.  This trial traffic program topic was raised; a powerpoint slide was presented; Judy Fiske asked for feedback from a packed room of Evanston residents and crickets; not a peep.

    SO – the above FIVE points are FACTs and I strongly suggest you get a grip.  You redirect your ire somewhere more appropriate else I’d politely encourage you to go jump in the Lake and cool down.
    Again – the fatal bike/truck incident is terribly sad but anger is misplaced … at so-called “NIMBYS"

    Richard
     

    1. university town
      Sheridan is too narrow for trucks like this – 4 of them could absolutely not be side by side. No, I didn’t know about the trial reroutes (I don’t live there) but Sheridan allways feels dangerously narrrow. Trucks should be limited or prohibited as safety research instructs. Not a few neighbors, not the aldermen with the most pull, the actual research about how to run our city safely.

      Re #s 1. and 2. These houses on Lincoln are and always have been (in our lifetimes) half a mile from a world class university that will be under construction always. This makes jobs. it increases the prestige of the university which brings in students and their families that support the economy of Evanston. NU is not perfect and it could surely do A LOT more on lots of town-gown issues. But Lincoln is certaintly a safer route for large trucks. It is wide and slow and while 2 of the large trucks you are talking about might not be able to pass side to side with parked cars, by going slowly and one at a time, many fewer people are in danger. Trruck drivers surely are responsible to not swipe cars, but we might want some time restricitons for trucks, but it is absolutelly safer for them to be on the blue route.

      3. This is a reason to ENCOURAGE the use of Lincoln, not disocurage.

      5. We continue to have laws AGAINST using the sidewalks in much of Evanston for people using roller blades, bikes, skateboards, and other zero emmission forms of transportation and people whine about dedicated lanes. (and ps – I live 2 houses from Dodge and the bike lanes make things harderbut guess what? we deal with it so we can have safer bike routes for the kids going to school.). So yeah (as to #5), I have to tolerate something for safety’s sake that makkes my life a little more complex.

      Of course residents should make their issues known and the city and the school should work together to try to solve them, but 16 houses with children is not a reason to reroute trucks to Sheridan.

      Re football – there are 7 home games per season. It is not every saturday or even most saturdays. It is 7 saturdays a year.

      All that said, it sounds like some people on Loncoln have figured out that they don;t like the location of living on a relatively important traffic artery in the city so close to the university. It happens to the best of us that we don’t knwo things when we buy a house. It sucks. And then you have to figure out if you are going to stay or not. But the overall safety of everyone who lives here (including our NU students) has to come ahead of the pockets of folks with powerful aldermen. We need real studies of best practices for safety and a group of elected officials who will implement those strategies (and not cave to complaining – like the Dodge bike lanes and the use of Lincoln for trucks). At least, that is what I would hope for in my elected officials.

    2. Richard, are you saying Bill’s article is inaccurate?
      Richard, you say in your comment that “The “detour” referred to in the article is not yet in effect.” Bill’s article says the detour is in place.

      How do you account for the FACT that the concrete truck struck a cyclist on a stretch of road that forbids trucks?

      Your points 2-5 don’t have anything to do with this crash.

      The point is that a truck was driving on a street where its presence was forbidden. How did it get there and who gave it the authority to use that route is the issue.

    3. I think commenters know

      I think commenters know exactly who they are venting at, Richard. I live on the detour route. It is a high traffic area and I expect a certain level of noise. I believe that your houses shake because my 9 story CONDO BUILDING can shake with some of these vehicles. For me, it's part of living in a city and near a university that is constantly updating itself. The university is part of why I want to live here. We gain a lot. We do have to put up with some nuisances. Asking your alderman for something isn't outrageous…but I do think some perspective could be beneficial on your part. Whether you realized it or not, what you asked was to re-route annoying and potentially (and you claim proven-to-be!) dangerous traffic past thousands of other people, college students and small children, who already experience a high level of traffic, etc. What the city did, was reroute annoying/potentially dangerous traffic past thousands of other people, college students, and small children. I'm not angry at Northwestern because they are a top-notch university who is going to try to update and stay competitive FOREVER and I know this. I can move away if it's just not worth it. (And I have to say…I'm not sure I would live so close to any other campus. The noise, etc. it just not what you might expect for a major university. The students, for the most part are lovely. We really are lucky.) I am not angry at the truck drivers who occasionally idle outside my building or honk "hello" to each other because I understand I live on a truck route due to the viaducts. These are some of the very few "negatives" to living in my lovely neighborhood which is vibrant and two blocks from the lake you are urging us to jump in…I dare not whine. I am frustrated at fellow community members who want nuisances simply moved to other people's back yards but I am MORE upset with the city for saying "ok!"  This whole situation certainly has had me thinking about the indirect consequence of our actions.  

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