Kirkwood closures won’t include half block in front of CVS pandemic vaccination clinic

Starting Thursday next week, Kirkwood Avenue’s yellow bollards will reappear, blocking off isolated segments of the east-west downtown Bloomington street.

That’s the result of action taken at the regular Tuesday meeting of the three-member Bloomington board of public works.

Like similar decisions made last summer and fall, the Kirkwood closures are meant to help retailers and restaurants expand their customer reach, while COVID-19 pandemic restrictions limit their indoor capacity.

The street closures authorized by the board of public works go through June 30, 2021. In December last year, Bloomington’s city council extended to August 6, 2021 the term of an ordinance allowing for the waiver of the relevant parts of city code.

The Kirkwood closures will persist through the week, not just on weekends. Affected will be the block between Grant and Dunn streets, as well as the block between Walnut and Washington streets.

But the half-block between Washington and the alley behind the Book Corner will stay open to automobile traffic, Michael Large, operations manager for public works, told the board on Tuesday.

That will allow the same current access to the CVS at the corner of Kirkwood and Washington, which is operating a COVID-19 vaccination clinic.

Large described the half-block closure as a compromise with local businesses. That means the yellow bollards that can be inserted into the circular cutouts in the crosswalks will not be used at Kirkwood and Washington. Instead, “vehicle-resistant barriers” will be placed mid-block between Washington and Walnut, Large said.

Large’s memo to the board of public works addresses why uninterrupted street closures, not just on weekends, are desired. Kirkwood Community Association and the city’s administration want businesses to be able to plan consistently and to invest in structures that can provide safe dining experiences, the memo says.

Large also described to the board on Tuesday how the allowance of certain structures inside the right-of-way, like the plastic domes outside of Uptown Cafe, could wind up being discontinued, when the governor’s pandemic-related state of emergency ends.

The discontinuation of temporary structures in the right-of-way, after the emergency order expires, is related to the fire code, Large said. According to Large, Bloomington fire chief Jason Moore participated in the meetings on the topic.