The street-sharing pilot program does not fly with representatives of western companies
It didn’t take long for Paul Klitzkie, Managing Director of Nature’s Perspective Landscaping, to see that the City’s shared streets pilot program for the entire length of Greenleaf Street did not fit well with the narrow strip of the city. street where his and other businesses are located.
City officials kicked off the project on July 19 to allow pedestrians, cyclists and drivers to safely share the entire length of Greenleaf Street from McDaniel Avenue to Lake Shore Boulevard, announcing in their original release : “This shared streets pilot project discourages through traffic on Greenleaf Street, providing all modes of transportation the ability to share access to and from commercial and residential areas of Evanston.
Klitzkie, a representative for the West End business district, which is made up of a number of businesses clustered along the 2000 block of Greenleaf Street, said he was all for the city to provide opportunities for more leisure, as the press release points out.
However, “share it [the street] with semi-finals [semi-trailer trucks] and other big industrial deliveries, I don’t think that’s the best idea at the end of the day, ”he said.
He said the 72-foot semi-trailers make daily deliveries to his company as well as CE Niehoff, IRMCO, Pneufast and Lake Line Delivery, among others located on or just off the busy street.
City officials have made some changes in response to concerns raised by business owners, who have called a meeting to discuss their concerns. The changes included reducing the barricades to barrel size and moving them to the promenade, said Jessica Hyink, the city’s transportation and mobility coordinator.
Hyink herself stepped out to change a post on a sign that Klitzkie said was confusing at first, leading a truck driver to wonder if he could make deliveries on the street. With the changes, “from the City’s point of view, this is the most minimal treatment of the entire corridor,” she said.
She spoke in favor of including the west end of Greenleaf Street by the City in the pilot program. From past experience, officials knew that this section of the street was used by residents to and from Valli Produce, for example, or by students, making a cut on their way home from school, Hyink said. .
In addition, Greenleaf Street stands out as one of the few streets in the city to be fully connected east to west from the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District grounds to the lake., ” she said. The route also passes through Nichols School as well as the Main-Dempster Mile district.
With traffic lights at major intersections, “it’s easier for people to cycle, walk and use the street,” she said.
Truck deliveries are particularly problematic
Klitzkie said trucks making deliveries normally use Dempster Street, which is a truck route. “And generally what they’ve done historically is drive down Dodge and then turn onto Greenleaf Street. And this is usually the truck route, because it is the easiest way for them to pass.
This route was cut short on the first day of the program, he said, “when they were bombarded with a sign saying ‘Road closed; transit traffic only. That first day, “we had a driver who was confused and he was like, ‘Can I even come by here?’ Klitzkie said. He said the companies then turned to the City for help.
At the July 21 meeting, Klitzkie said, one of the West End representatives asked if the city could have created a cutout around the industrial district – using Lee Street or even Main Street. “And they weren’t receptive to that option,” he said.
He said the group also raised concerns at the meeting about receiving notice. “We would have liked the City to approach our business district ahead of time and say, ‘Hey, we’re planning to launch a pilot program that will go through your neighborhood. ”
Aesthetics also came into play. From neighbors living on Greenleaf Street, Klitzkie said he heard “Hey, this looks like a construction site. Couldn’t there be something more inviting or aesthetic?
Some members of the group also said they were wondering what the City will do after the pilot program, which is scheduled to end on August 16.
Klitzkie said owner of CE Niehoff, for example, said his company recently bought a large piece of land in the neighborhood to build a new building. “And the idea is that they had this parking lot especially for all of their employees so that they could easily get out of the neighborhood and out without creating congestion,” he said. “So doing that, who knows?” “
Jafar Sangtrash, whose J&B Transmissions and Auto Repair shop is located at 1905 Greenleaf St. at the intersection of Dodge Avenue, said signs saying “Slow down local access only” have made drivers reluctant to enter. the narrow street.
“People don’t know why this exists,” he said. “They stop, they think, ‘Oh, what should I do, should I go, should I wait?’ save traffic.
In such cases, Klitzkie said, “you get like a UPS truck or even a tractor-trailer, which you’ll see come out here, usually in the morning. Depending on which direction they’re going to go – if they’re going to come back north on Dodge, they’ve got to be able to do that wide turn. So they actually come slightly to the left so they can swing it hard. “
Hyink pointed out that the current program is a pilot program, using easily removable signage and carried out at low cost, and therefore the same high standards were not at stake as for a permanent program.
Nonetheless, officials presented details of the program at a city council planning and development meeting and neighborhood meetings, and distributed leaflets to residents and businesses in affected neighborhoods.
She said that once the pilot program is completed, officials plan to assess the data collected and determine the effect of the shared street project on through traffic, she said.
The data gathered during this month-long pilot will likely lead officials to consider different programs than the one on Greenleaf Street, based on the feedback received so far, she said.
She said one possibility could be to establish bike lanes for the summer just to create more opportunities for people to get around.