Part of the new protected bike lane on Church Street in Evanston got its shiny new paint job today.

A crew was working on Church between Ashland and Wesley avenues early this afternoon working toward downtown from Evanston Township High School.

The Church Street project also involves extensive work to replace uneven brick sidewalks downtown and repave portions of the street at a cost of over $2 million.

The City Council tonight will be voting on several other public works projects. They include:

  • Nearly $3 million to Insituform Technologies of Chesterfield, Mo., to improve more than a mile-and-a-quarter of 100-year old sewer lines on Davis Emerson and Central streets, Prairie Avenue and Elgin Road.
  • Over $1.5 million to Glenbrook Excavating & Contracting of Prarie View, Ill., to replace 88-year-old water mains on Central Street between Cowper Avenue and Central Park Avenue that have experienced 16 breaks this year.
  • Nearly $300,000 to A. Lamp Concrete Contractors of Schaumburg for additional street resurfacing projects on one-block sections of Lee, Lyons and Washington streets.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. Great idea; poor design

    I'm all for bike lanes and took part in the voting for the paint color. I was so excited they were putting in this bike lane … but it's terrible! (I rode on a piece as they were painting it this weekend during my 40 miles of biking, so I really do want bike lanes!)

    1) You can no longer safely bike west on Church St from Wesley to the high school because they moved the center line over and the west-bound traffic lane is quite narrow.

    2) A strange section of the bike lane is two way, but there's no way for bikers to get to this small west-bound section.

    3) The transition from the street to the sidewalk is awkward at best when going east from Dodge and you have to squeeze between a light pole and a trashcan to start biking.

    4) During busy school starts/ends, the bike lane on the sidewalk conflicts with the busy bus stop.

    5) Cars now have an even harder time turning south onto Dodge from east-bound Church St. That intersection really needed turn lanes, but now traffic will be really backed up during school AM/PM prime drop-off times.

    I get the feeling that the designer of the bike lane never set foot in Evanston and certainly never witnessed the area on a school morning. That's a lost opportunity!

  2. What cheap looking concrete sidewalks!

    I was downtown today and was simply stunned to see that all of the pavers on Church have been removed and cheap, poured concrete was installed in our downtown sidewalks.

    Why they didn't reset the existing pavers is just hard to understand.  What a complete waste of material. What happened to all of the claims that we are going to be a more sustainable City?

    Since we already owned the pavers, I really find it hard to believe that it would cost less to rip them out, haul them to some landfill and pour concrete instead.

    Another example of the City talking about sustainability, but not walking the walk.  Of course,  I understand that the pavers were uneven and have needed resetting for some time (poor maintenance!).

    They may not have been set correctly to start, or they merely needed regular maintenance – something the City of Evanston seems incapable of providing.  Anything that looks good – and I mean anything, takes maintenance.

    Let's just cover the whole town with vinyl siding and dri-vit, and be done with it now.  And, clearly our City council does not put enough money in the budget to maintain almost anything we own (Civic Center Roof comes to mind!)  These new concrete sidewalks look cheap because, next to asphalt sidewalks, concrete is the absolute cheapest solution – and it shows!

    1. Couldn’t agree with you more

      Although many communities use pavers on their sidewalks, Evanston's was a significant contributor to the beauty of its downtown. When I was thinking about moving five years ago, I thought to myself what a tasteful and prosperous town. This concrete is going to be pock-marked with gum and other gross stuff in just a few months and we'll have that "Clark Street in Rogers Park" feel in no time.

      I wish more people would stand up for public beauty in a time when we are handing millions out to make improvements to private property.

  3. Planning vs. reality

    Yeah bike lanes. Yeah bigger sidewalks. In theory those ideas are supportable – but the practical application at  the Church/Dodge intersection seems to have gone horribly awry.

    I have been taking my kids to school at ETHS for 8 years now and the new intersection is a complete nightmare. One eastbound bus stops all traffic and snarls the intersection for repeated light cycles. Bicyclists heading west on Church have nowhere to go and one cyclists slows all traffic. 

    There are no left turn lanes so any vehicles turning stops all traffic. Add a bus heading east and nothing moves.

    This design, this plan may have made sense in committee, but in practice it has taken a difficult intersection and made it impossible. 

    That's just the morning traffic. All these problems are quadrupled in the afternoon. 

    Based on my commute this morning – the entire area is a powder keg of frustrated motorists and teenagers.

  4. Bikers don’t deserve bike lanes

    This is ridiculous. Bikers are not deserving of these bike lanes. When they begin following the rules of the road just as drivers are obligated to, I may have more sympathy. Stop signs are not optional, and red lights are there for a reason. It's too bad this city does not enforce rules against bikers

    1. Re: Bike Lanes, Bikers, and Drivers

      By this reasoning, a large percentage of motorists on the roads do not deserve driving lanes.  I agree with the frustration of bikers who go the wrong way down Davis, fail to stop at intersections, and many other moving violations.  As a bicyclist who tries to follow the rules, wears a helmet, and signals turns, seeing others blatantly ignore the rules is very annoying.

      I challenge anyone, though, to bike any five blocks in downtown Evanston – while following the rules – without having to stop, swerve, swear, or get knocked off by a passing vehicle who does not follow traffic laws or have the whereabouts to see the bicyclist behind or in front of them.  Every (and this is literal, not an exageration) time that I have biked downtown Evanston, these things happen.  Yesterday, after waiting to turn left on Dempster from the traffic light at Elmwood, the light turned green.  The pedestrian on her cell phone did not start crossing when her signal changed.  I waited for her (since she has the right of way) and thank God I did, for a solid 20 seconds after the light had changed, an SUV blew through the red light on Dempster – oblivious to the pedestrian or to me on my bike.

      The time before that, riding west on Grove, under the tracks (in the direction that is open), a car coming east saw the road closed sign and did a quick U-Turn, "looking" for traffic and forcing me to slam brakes and jump off the bike in order not to get hit.

      Yes, some bicyclists (too many) give it a bad name – but they are hardly the only ones violating traffic rules.

  5. The pavers looked better

    I agree with the other posters about the unattractive look of the replacement concrete.  The pavers looked so much better but, yes, they needed resetting.  And those cool looking larger pieces with the tree motifs.  Those demonstrated the city really cared about overall appearance. 

    Yes it would have been possible to make the old pavers work again.  That's called maintenance and I assume the city weighed that cost vs replacement. 

    There will be lots of cracks appearing next spring. 


  6. New Bike Lanes – Bad Sense of Direction

    Please fix the Eastbound lanes at the intersection of Church and Asbury.  It's an accident waiting to happen. 

  7. It seems to me that these are

    It seems to me that these are really only partial bike lanes, as they don't continue past the Church/Dodge intersection and with the traffic nightmare that's been created, the city has successfully found an odd way of diminishing traffic in that area. I can't wait until my youngest graduates so I'll never have to drive that way again!

  8. Mixed reviews on Church St. project

    I'm with anonymous, who said the bike lane is a great idea, but badly executed. The most bizarre element must be that short west-bound section that starts in the middle of a block and dead ends into a curb half a block later. There must be a portkey at either end that feeds into (and out of) this stretch of bike lane. That's the only explanation I can come up with.

    I walk to downtown Evanston every day along Church Street. The poured sidewalks aren't pretty, but they are an improvement for foot traffic, and for those who shovel the walks in winter. The east side of town is built on a sand dune. The ground under us is sand and subject to shifting, so those pavers had started to break, buckle, and go missing. It was getting too easy  to trip if you don't watch your step. The new sidewalk recycled some of the pavers into an edging at the curb. That part looks nice and was a good "re-use" move.

    I don't give high marks to the company doing the work. The concrete work does look cheap and uneven, and the crews were more disruptive over a longer stretch of Church Street for a longer time than they might have been. They seemed to act like they were working in the middle of the country, where one car might pass every 15 minutes, and not in the middle of an urban area. We can only hope our city got a cut-rated deal on the job.

  9. Please use caution when

    Please use caution when driving on this redone stretch of Church St. The lanes are narrower. Try drivng while a bus is passing in the other lane, like I did this morning and you'll notice.

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