City consultants offered three design ideas Wednesday night for beautifying the Union Pacific viaduct at the Emerson Street gateway to downtown Evanston.

One option, shown above, would choose a monochrome color scheme for the viaduct that would highlight its mid-century art deco design elements.

An illuminated highway bridge used to illustrate the design concept.

The consultants suggest that the bridge could also be artistically illuminated with LED lights, the abutment walls could be covered in reflective subway tile and a bold paving pattern under the bridge could reinforce the art deco motif.

A second option proposes a “graphically bold” approach, turning the bridge into a canvas for public art, using a bold geometric pattern from the mid-century era with light tubes under the bridge to echo the graphic pattern at night. The pattern could wrap the bfridge and abutment walls and the pavement beneath the bridge would get the same treatment.

A third approach suggests turning the viaduct into a hanging garden with linear planters containing drought-tolerant plants mounted to the sides of the bridge and a garden-themed mosaic on the abutment walls.

An example provided by the consultants of a garden-themed mosaic.

The consultants also suggest topping the concrete underneath the viaduct with synthetic turf to expand the green space.

The presentation from the consultants didn’t include cost estimates for any of the viaduct beautification treatments.

The beautification concepts are part of a larger project to redesign the Emerson-Ridge-Green Bay intersection for improved traffic flow.

The project schedule calls for submitting staff proposals to the City Council in December or January. The city’s seeking feedback on the project through Nov. 12 at the project website.

Related story

Three options unveiled for Green Bay at Emerson

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

Join the Conversation


  1. Have they lost touch with [financial if not common sense] ?
    The question that should be asked of the city government is one Frasier asked Cliff on “Cheers”—
    “What color is the sky in your world.” They have gone beyond California “La La Land” to a whole new world of fantasy.
    Get a grip on reality !

    1. La La land is the city finance

      You are correct they continue to come up with all types of silly projects which they have no money and the keep on playing a shell game with the city books – of one fund transfer after another, giving money away to private individuals for money the bank will not lend.

      They keep on covering up all the mistakes and avoid any real discussions of the fiscal problems.  They are in La La with water sales and they want to play poltics with the resorvior, costing us millions.

      Should be a smooth budget hearings since none of the council members will ask any real questions.


  2. Emerson viaduct
    I vote for option #1. It’s sleekly urban and sophisticated. The led lights would be particularly valuable for safety at night.

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