Draft of transportation plan ‘sets the tone’ in Bloomington



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Bloomington has released a final draft of the Bloomington Transportation Plan, which will be presented to residents from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. July 12 at City Hall. 

Bloomington has been working with Toole Design Group, a consulting firm headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, to create a plan for expanding and maintaining Bloomington’s transportation needs.

Sagar Onta, the engineering director for Toole Design Group, explained the plan is conceptual right now and is not meant to alarm residents who might be concerned about changes. 

Onta said he and Toole Design Group are presenting this plan to the city and the plan reflects desired or ideal changes to Bloomington, but not all those changes will be realized.

“This plan sets the tone for what the transportation network should look like in 20, 30 years,” Onta said.

Street Changes

One of the more drastic remodeling ideas is a redesign of Kirkwood Avenue, extending from Indiana Avenue to Walnut Street. Kirkwood Avenue would become what’s called a shared street, Onta said. 

The new curbless street design will prioritize nonmotorized traffic like pedestrians and bicyclists, and help slow speeds in the area. Changing Kirkwood to a shared street would allow it to slow down traffic and function like a festival street when needed.

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“The idea is to make that part of downtown the center of town,” Onta said. 

The transportation plan notes street parking is optional on shared streets, but Onta was clear there would be no loss of parking downtown and on Kirkwood Avenue, where parking is already at a premium. 

Currently, Walnut and Third streets, as well as College and Atwater avenues, are all one-way streets, but the final draft of the plan Onta helped design will restore two-way traffic on these streets. This change will help facilitate another east-west connection in the city, something Bloomington lacks.

Also included in the final draft of the transportation plan is an expansion of the B-Line Trail. The plan suggests expanding the trail’s level of safety and comfort onto Seventh Street would benefit the IU and local residential communities.

“The B-Line Trail is the backbone of Bloomington’s active transportation network,” according to the draft plan. “It is widely popular for both transportation and recreation, and it has spurred economic development along its corridor. In order to extend these benefits throughout the city, this Plan recommends prioritizing connected, high-comfort routes and extending the B-Line to the northwest.”

Even though the city could be facing major changes in street design, Onta said he wanted to reassure residents no changes were happening right away and they should not be alarmed. 

For example, he said, there are roads on the draft that run through homes and even the College Mall, but those roads are currently hypothetical.

If that property changes hands, or owners want to sell and redevelop the land, new city connections could be created, but residents shouldn’t worry about the city coming in and taking their home because of the transportation plan.

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“The city’s not coming to bulldoze your home,” Onta said.

The entire Bloomington Transportation Plan is available for download on the city’s website here and residents unable to make it to the Thursday meeting will be able to make comments about the plan online or stream it through CATS TV.

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