Multimodal update: Total right-of-way acquisition costs for 2 Bloomington paths drop by $1.4M

On Monday, two multimodal paths that make connections in the north part of town got a greenlight for their next phases: the acquisition of right-of-way from owners of property along the routes.

In this context, “multimodal” means the facility is engineered for pedestrians and bicyclists.

The approvals from the Bloomington redevelopment commission (RDC) for the next steps were uncontroversial for both projects: a northward extension of the existing B-Line Trail; and filling the gap between Monroe and Grant Streets in the multimodal path along the north side of 17th Street.

Construction for the projects won’t start until 2023.

Both approvals of right-of-way (ROW) acquisition came with a significant price drop compared to the previously estimated cost.

For the B-Line Trail extension, the drop in estimated cost to get control of the necessary ROW was from $897,000 down to $400,000, nearly half a million dollars.

For the 17th Street multimodal path, the drop in estimated ROW cost was even more—from $1,590,000 down to $650,000 for a difference of $940,000.

Between the two projects, that makes $1.4 million less in ROW costs, compared to the amount that was initially estimated.

Roy Aten, who is the city staffer handling the B-Line extension, told RDC members the reduction stems from the fact that appraisals on the 19 parcels have now been done, since the time when the initial estimates were made. Aten is a senior project manager in Bloomington’s engineering department.

It was the same explanation given by Neil Kopper, for the 17th Street multimodal path project. Kopper is a senior project engineer with the city.

Kopper said, “The initial number was prepared before we had any appraisals, so now we have much better numbers.” Kopper continued by saying the initial figure assumed one of the parcels involved would have to be “taken” in its entirety—but that proved not to be necessary. Kopper added, “We’re very happy that that did not end up being the case.”

The estimated costs for the projects, before the reductions in ROW figures, were $5.4 million for the 17th Street project and $3.8 million for the B-Line extension. The projects are being paid for out of a combination of tax increment finance (TIF) revenue and Federal Highway Administration (FHA) grants.

The B-Line extension will start from what is currently the northwestern end of the trail, and follow the railroad track for a short way, then turn north along Fountain Drive, then pick up Crescent Drive and continue to 17th Street.

At 17th Street, the trail will connect with an existing multimodal path on the north side of the street.

The 17th Street project on Monday’s RDC agenda—from Monroe Street to Grant Street—reflects the only gap for a multimodal path along 17th, Kopper told the RDC on Monday.

Kopper said, “This is actually the gap on 17th Street.” To the east of the project, Kopper said, there’s a multi-use path on the north side of 17th Street all the way to Eagleson Avenue (formerly Jordan Avenue). On the west, Kopper said, the path on the north side of 17th Street extends past the roundabout, to Vernal Pike, well outside of the city limits.

RDC members Deborah Meyerson and Deborah Hutton wanted to know if the 17th Street project includes any kind of direct connection to Tri-North Middle School. The school is just southeast of the roundabout that connects Monroe Street, Arlington Road, and 17th Street.

Kopper indicated there is not any work on school property included in the project.

Meyerson told Kopper what prompted her question is traffic congestion around the school. Meyerson said, “I’ve been through there on Monroe Street at dismissal time. It’s just a total nightmare, in terms of car traffic… parents picking up their kids.”

Meyerson hopes the multimodal path would make it as easy as possible to encourage other modes of transportation to the school.

Kopper said the current challenge is getting between the north and south sides of 17th Street. The multimodal path is on the north side of the Street. Tri-North middle school is on the south side of the street.

Right now, the best way to get across 17th Street is to use the crosswalks at the roundabout, Kopper said.

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