Only about a dozen residents turned out for a meeting Wednesday night to try to come up with ways to improve the congested and ugly Evanston intersection of Emerson Street with Ridge Avenue and Green Bay Road.
They were outnumbered by four aldermen, four consultants, three reporters and at least two city staffers at the session at the Fleetwood-Jourdain Center.
Joe Checzewski of ESI Consultants ran through a laundry list of problems already identified at the intersection and along the corridors leading to it.
The Emerson, Ridge, Green Bay intersection, in an image from Google Maps.
At the intersection itself those issues range from congestion, confusing traffic patterns and poor lighting to a lack of safe routes for bicyclists, pedestrians and the disabled and a need to improve the aesthetics of a crossroads that is a major gateway to downtown.
On Green Bay Road issues include narrow sidewalks, the lack of bike lanes and poor aesthetics.
On Ridge Avenue issues include traffic congestion, narrow lanes and a lack of left turn lanes.
On Emerson Street the concerns include traffic safety at interesections with Railroad and Oak avenues and providing parking for businesses while not impeding traffic flow.
Special constraints include the railroad viaduct that crosses the intersection and provides one of the few full-height paths for trucks into downtown Evanston.
Residents were invited to review boards showing traffic flows along the roads and suggest additional issues to be addressed.
At least one person suggested just reducing the traffic lanes flowing through the area — on the theory that people whose destination wasn't in Evanston would then choose to take different routes.
City Engineer Homayoon Pirooz chats with residents at the meeting.
The city has set up a website where residents can review documents for the project and offere comments.
The goal of the current project is to develop preliminary design plans for improvements by the end of the year. Additional public meetings are planned for June and August.