City Council preview Aug. 14, 2019: One travel lane for Dunn Street mulled, based on traffic study

After postponing the question at its Aug. 7 meeting, Bloomington’s city council will take up the issue on Wednesday (Aug. 14) of adding parking to Dunn Street, between 6th and 10th Streets. The proposal is to reduce the two-lane, one-way street to a single travel lane.

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Dunn Street at 10th looking south. Aug. 12, 2019 (Dave Askins/Beacon)

The Dunn Street parking proposal is part of some legislation that also revises a neighborhood permit parking zone boundary for residents who live on 17th Street. What’s proposed is to add the south side of 17th Street to the newly established neighborhood parking permit Zone 6, in the Garden Hill neighborhood, west of the Indiana University football stadium.

The legislation revising the parking ordinance is a second reading, so action by the council would be the final vote.

The council’s Wednesday agenda also features a first-reading item—an appropriation ordinance to supplement Bloomington Transit’s 2019 budget. The local public transit agency recently received federal grant awards that will allow it to purchase $1,128,000 worth of new buses—one battery-electric bus for fixed route service and two buses for para-transit service. The grants cover $902,401 of the cost.

Next week on Tuesday, the council will hear Bloomington Transit’s 2020 budget proposal, as part of a four-day Monday-through-Thursday series of presentations from all city departments about their proposed budgets for the next year.

In 2020, Bloomington Transit will be budgeting for an additional four battery-electric buses at a cost of $1 million apiece—contingent on winning the kind of grants that are funding 80 percent of the cost of the electric bus in Wednesday’s appropriation ordinance.

17th Street in Permit Zone 6

The proposed change will allow residents of single-family household detached dwellings on the south side of 17th Street to obtain a permit and park a vehicle on the street. Permits allow someone to park on a street in the neighborhood, but only where it’s otherwise allowed, which does not include 17th Street.

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The creation of Zone 6 was one of several revisions to the city’s parking ordinance enacted by Bloomington’s city council at its Sept. 19 meeting last year, on a unanimous vote.

At last week’s meeting, councilmember Steve Volan said the idea to add 17th Street’s south side to the zone came from someone who lives on 17th Street, who has no off-street parking available and was accustomed to parking on Washington or Lincoln streets. Volan said he consulted with the neighborhood, and heard no objections.

Dunn Street

Proposed Dunn Street parking changes drew enough questions from councilmembers Jim Sims and Isabel Piedmont-Smith last week that the council decided to postpone consideration of the legislation until this Wednesday, Aug. 14.

The proposal is to eliminate some current no-parking restrictions on some blocks of Dunn Street. The street runs one-way south.

The blocks of Dunn between 6th and 10th would no longer have “no-parking signs.” The idea is to increase parking supply, and slow down traffic. According to the city’s planning and transportation staff, Volan said, the stretch is widely regarded as something of a speedway.

In his memo attached to the first reading packet material, Volan wrote: “Dunn Street between 10th and 7th Streets…has room to add to the neighborhood parking supply, which serves the University Village Overlay as well as the residences within the zones. Adding parking here would increase the supply while slowing down speeding car traffic.”

Questions last week from councilmember Jim Sims drew out some details of the proposed parking configuration—it would reduce the street from two lanes to one, possibly with angled parking. Sims was skeptical that the one block between 9th and 10th streets was wide enough to accommodate both a lane for travel and a lane for parking.

Volan referred to a lengthy report on a study done for the planning and transportation department, which he offered to provide. The report concludes that the two lanes are not necessary for capacity, but rather provide a convenience for drivers.

The report is based on traffic counts done earlier in 2019, while schools were in session, at the intersections of 10th, 7th and 6th streets. In the morning peak hour, from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. 120 vehicles were counted driving south from 10th to 9th. In the afternoon peak hour, from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. 311 vehicles were counted in the same stretch.

The report analyzes traffic flow in terms of “level of service” (LOS), which is defined on a kind of academic A-to-F scale based on the amount of delay drivers experience.

A ≤10 secs
B >10 and ≤15 secs
C >15 and ≤25 secs
D >25 and ≤35 secs
E >35 and ≤50 secs
F >50 secs

For the current, two-lane configuration, the report analyzes Dunn Street’s LOS in the morning as grade A for all three intersections. Conversion to one travel lane would maintain a grade of A for morning LOS.

For the afternoon, the report analyzes Dunn Street’s current LOS as grade B for all three intersections. Conversion to one travel lane would maintain a grade of B for the 10th and the 7th intersections, but drop the grade to C for Dunn and 6th streets.

The report concludes that the stacks of cars (queue length) in a one-lane configuration would not have an impact on “upstream” intersections. From the report:

At the intersection of Dunn Street & 6th Street, the 95th percentile queue length for the southbound approach is anticipated to be 175 feet during the PM peak hour which is approximately seven (7) vehicles. The distance between 6th Street and 7th Street is 300 feet; therefore, no impacts are expected to occur with the upstream intersection.

The use of both southbound travel lanes with the current configuration is likely due to having the option to choose the next available lane, and not out of necessity to maximize throughput from a capacity standpoint. Although queuing is expected to be slightly longer during the PM peak hour as a one-lane roadway, Dunn Street is anticipated to continue to operate at an acceptable LOS without any significant impacts to corridor operations.

[Meeting agendas and information packets are available for download on the City of Bloomington’s website. They’re live streamed on CATS.]