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.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Speaking of Ugly Intersections…

    Would it be possible for the city to put in a turning lane on the east/west portion of Main Street at Asbury?  It is impossible to get down that street during rush hour when someone is turning north or south onto Asbury — which is ALWAYS.  I and several of my neighbors avoid taking that street because of this issue, even though it is more convenient to our homes.  It seems the city fixes this problem on other streets (Oakton got a right turn lane at Dodge fairly recently).  I'd be sorry to see some of the easement go, but having to wait through three turns of the light signal is a bit much and the idling traffic that lines up behind the turning traffic isn't good for the environment either.

  2. Late Invitation

    I am deeply interested in the fate of this intersection, as the current design is a disaster waiting to happen. I received an email invitation from my alderman just two hours before the meeting started. By then it was too late to make it. What should I do to be informed of this type of meeting? Do I need to subscribe to the Evanston Review?

    1. wish I had been there

      I missed hearing about this as well, unfortuantely. I live next to this intersection and it is the only place where I regularily jaywalk because it is actually safer than obeying the traffic signals.

  3. Few turn out for ugly intersection meeting

    There might have been more people if the meeting was at a different place. I was there and the Fleetwood-Jourdain parking lot was full. There were no available spaces on Foster.  Fleetwood -Jourdain isn't close to a train station.  The next public meeting should be held in a building closer to public transportation.

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