Mid-afternoon on Friday, Bloomington mayor John Hamilton released a statement vetoing the city council’s action taken last week, to approve reinstallation of stop signs at four intersections on 7th Street.
The stop signs that have already been reinstalled at the 7th-and-Dunn intersection will remain in place—through a new 180-day order issued by the city engineer.
The stop signs at Morton, Washington, and Lincoln Streets will not be reinstalled, unless the council votes to override the mayor’s veto.
It looks unlikely that the council would be able to achieve the two-thirds majority (6) that is needed to override a veto. Still, a possible vote on a veto override appears on next Wednesday’s (Oct. 18) meeting agenda for the city council.
The council’s vote last week on the reinstallation of the stop signs was 5–4—along the same familiar split that has marked many of the controversial votes taken by this edition of the council.
Voting for the ordinance were: Sue Sgambelluri, Ron Smith, Dave Rollo, Jims Sims, and Susan Sandberg. Voting against it were: Matt Flaherty, Isabel Piedmont-Smith, Steve Volan, and Kate Rosenbarger.
The original ordinance on stop-sign reinstallation, which was approved by the council last week, was initiated by the Hamilton administration. But just one intersection—at 7th and Dunn—was a part of the original ordinance. The point of the original ordinance was to make permanent the reinstallation of stop signs at 7th and Dunn, which had already been installed in April.
One of the salient data points introduced by the city engineer at last week’s meeting was the fact that an increase in crashes was seen in the corridor, after the removal of the stop signs. But the crash numbers returned to about the same level as before—after the city reinstalled the stop signs at 7th and Dunn in April 2023. The reinstallation of the signs at 7th and Dunn was based on a 180-day order issued by the city engineer.
The three additional stop signs came from an amendment proposed by Dave Rollo on the day of the council’s meeting. His amendment, approved on the same 5–4 split as for the ordinance as amended, added stop signs at Morton, Washington, and Lincoln Streets.
Hamilton’s veto statement acknowledges the politics of a new city council that will see five new members on the nine-member group to start 2024: “The council vote to revert three intersections to the pre-2021 condition, with the possibility of it being changed again in a few months, can cause more confusion and directly presents public safety concerns.”
Hamilton’s message adds: “Additional time, hopefully enough to allow a full year of data since the April 2023 changes, will allow for more robust and meaningful data to inform any significant adjustments.”
The removal of five stop signs along the corridor accompanied the opening of the 7-Line protected bicycle lane in mid-November 2021. The removal of the stop signs, which had been approved by the city council, was intended to make the east-west corridor a more attractive transportation option for bicyclists.
City engineer Andrew Cibor’s initial recommendation, after reviewing crash data subsequent to removal of the stop signs, had been to reinstall stop signs at all five intersections. But the city’s traffic commission, and the bicycle and pedestrian safety commission, both rejected reinstallation of all the stops.
Both groups recommend reinstalling the stop signs at the 7th-and-Dunn intersection.