After storm, Evanston clears residential roads

Grace Johnson

A day after a winter storm ravaged the Chicago area, the City of Evanston was able to clear all residential streets by 8 p.m. Wednesday, city officials said. The winter cleanup was a collaborative effort between several city departments and Northwestern. All other city operations were closed Wednesday.

“We’re quickly becoming a public works operation only,” City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz said in a conference call at 5:30 p.m.

Public works crews put 22 city plows to work to clear the snow, concentrating their efforts on main thoroughfares, including Sheridan Road, which was closed between the Evanston-Chicago border and Chicago Avenue until Wednesday evening. The city’s efforts were aided by eight trucks donated to street-clearing efforts by NU, Evanston Public Works Director Suzette Robinson said.

“You will see a very different downtown tomorrow morning,” Robinson said. “I’m expecting to see a lot of people moving tomorrow and being able to move, which is important.”

Now that the extreme snowfalls are over, the city is bracing for blistering cold during the next few days. The Robert Crown Community Center, 1701 Main St., will continue to remain open overnight as a warming shelter. City officials urged residents to check in on each other over the next few days.

“Take precautions during cold weather,” said Evonda Thomas, director of Evanston Health Department. “Check in on family members, neighbors and especially the elderly.”

While cleanup continues, the Lorraine H. Morton Civic Center, 2100 Ridge Ave., will be open for regular city operations tomorrow. District 202 and District 65 schools will remain closed Thursday. With students out of school for a second day, the city’s parks and recreation centers will be open for regular activities.

Later in the day Wednesday, law enforcement received more calls as “the city woke up,” Evanston Police Chief Richard Eddington said.

“We’ve had some disturbance and domestic calls, which one would anticipate after people are stuck inside with each other for a while,” Eddington said.

As the city enters a snow emergency Thursday, parking will only be allowed on the even-numbered sides of streets, while Friday parking will only be allowed on the odd-numbered sides of streets. The city will continue to offer free parking in three city parking garages through midnight Saturday morning. This is the first time the city has offered such a service, Parking Manager Rickey Voss said.

Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl praised the community’s efforts in dealing with the storm and its fallout this week.

“I’d like to thank all the people at public works,” she said. “Everyone is doing a terrific job. I’d also like to thank the community for pulling together over this event and helping each other. It has been wonderful to see people with snowblowers reaching out to help neighbors.”

The National Weather Service reported that Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport received 20.2 inches of snow Wednesday, making the blizzard the third-largest snowstorm to hit Chicago on record.

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