There's been little to photograph at the substation these days as most of the work continues to focus on the inside of the building, with little change to the outside. The most obvious change is the absence of vehicles parked under the viaduct, after complaints to the alderman's office from a neighbor and an article in DNAinfo. I was contacted by Ben Woodard at DNAinfo for my thoughts on the situation, but didn't respond to his voicemail because of some pressing professional obligations last week; i admit that i was also a little puzzled as to why this situation was suddenly newsworthy since it had been much the same for the past year, especially since the problem would resolve itself in the near future as the project winds to a close. Besides that, my thoughts on just about any topic rarely lend themselves to a short, unambiguous quote, and i have an absolute phobia about giving up control of my words and being misunderstood by having my remarks taken out of context: we literary types make for bad interviews. But ultimately, the result has been a positive one, making the intersection safer and more easily navigable.
My feelings about the parking situation have been mixed from the beginning, but with the exception of one or two occasions, i've accepted it as the most reasonable alternative. Finding a parking space in this neighborhood has never been easy (or so i've been told by my car-owning neighbors), and it is even harder now that the construction zone has taken away all the parking spaces along the east side of the L tracks on Glenwood. Since the workers have to park somewhere, it seemed to me that it was better for them to park under the viaduct than to fill those rare on-street parking spaces that the neighborhood residents need.
There were, however, some problems that went along with having two rows of vehicles parked under the viaduct: one against the construction fence in the right lane of the roadway, and the other on the sidewalk. My biggest concern has been for safety, since the vehicles parked on the roadway made it difficult to see if there was oncoming traffic until you were well into the intersection; and, because the stop sign is obscured by the support beams for the viaduct (see picture), cars sometimes go through this intersection faster than they ought. Under ordinary circumstances, the parking on the sidewalk area under the viaduct was little more than a minor inconvenience. But with the buildup of ice and snow all winter, things have gotten more difficult, especially when compounded by the People's Gas vehicles and excavations on Farwell. There was one particular day when there was a larger than usual crew at the substation, including some workers who were not part of the regular crew; there were extra vehicles as well, including a large pick-up truck that was parked so close to the dumpsters that it blocked the sidewalk, forcing anyone trying to walk under the viaduct to climb over a big pile of snow and walk in the street. I think this was the day that led Mr. Pollard to complain to the alderman; i complained on this blog on the same day, posting pictures of the blocked sidewalk here. I was also annoyed that when i approached a group of workers (who were not part of the regular crew, who have always been friendly, respectful, and helpful) and asked if the truck could be moved, i was given the "cranky-old-lady" brush-off, and told laughingly that that was just how it was and i could "thank the CTA." Fortunately, i saw the job supervisor a minute later and called the situation to his attention. The truck was moved immediately, and has never parked in that area since. This has always been my experience with the workers on this job, beginning with the famous dumpster dilemma at the beginning of the project. If there was a problem and it was brought to their attention, they would find a way to resolve it. So i'm glad that this latest issue has been settled.
Since the heavy equipment is gone from the site now, there's room to park a few cars on-site (this would not have been possible during the major phase of the construction); the larger vehicles are parked along the west side of Glenwood. Crossing the street is a lot easier and the sidewalk under the viaduct is clear (at least until the next time someone decides to abandon their bed-buggedy old mattress there). Now if the sun would just take its job a little more seriously and melt the rest of the ice and snow….