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High winds force closure of downtown Evanston streets

Evanston emergency personnel are keeping parts of downtown closed to vehicle traffic and pedestrians through the evening rush hour.

Church Street at Orrington Avenue is one of several downtown streets police closed off. (Bill Smith photo)

Construction debris from the Sherman Plaza development has created dangerous conditions with falling and flying materials.

Police Chief Frank Kaminski said one construction worker was cut by flying debris about 8:30 this morning. He’s been treated for cuts and released. Cars have also been hit by falling rubble, but no other injuries have been reported.

The chief said buses that normally stop on Benson Avenue directly behind the construction site have been rerouted to stop in front of the Century Theater complex on Maple Avenue instead.

The CTA Purple Line is continuing to run but is not stopping at the Davis Street station. Riders would have to use the stations at Dempster Street or Foster Street instead.

Chief Kaminski says the police distributed flyers about the problem to stores in the affected area, and many store managers decided to close for the day.

The streets blocked off included Church from Maple to Orrington, Davis from Sherman to Maple, Benson from Clark to Davis and Sherman from Clark to Davis.

Plastic sheeting was ripped from its framework on some openings of the Sherman Plaza high rise.

“One of the problems,” said Fire Chief Alan Berkowsky, “is that the winds are so dangerous and high that construction workers cannot even get to the top of the project to secure the materials.”

He continued, “And the materials that already have been secured are not holding.”

“We realize this is an inconvenience to businesses and residents of our downtown,” Chief Kaminski said. “Our first concern is keeping everyone safe.”

“We ask everyone to take precautions during these high winds and to please cooperate until the situation is under control,” he said, adding that officials are continuing to monitor weather conditions and forecasts to determine when they may be able to remove the barricades.

Sherman Avenue from Clark to Davis was nearly deserted as officials blocked traffic to try to avoid any more injuries should more debris blow off the Sherman Plaza construction site.

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