Trees, warning surface among final details of Bloomington’s 7-Line bicycle lane

At Tuesday’s meeting of Bloomington’s board of public works, three change orders were approved for the 7-Line project.

The increases in the approved expenditures, which totaled around $30,000, signaled that the final touches are being put on the $2.6 million protected bicycle lane for 7th Street.

The work has included the installation of replacements for two of three accessible on-street parking spaces, which were eliminated due to the construction of the project.

The 7-Line runs about three-quarters of a mile along 7th Street, from the B-Line Trail to the Indiana University campus. An official opening ceremony was held last week.

Continue reading “Trees, warning surface among final details of Bloomington’s 7-Line bicycle lane”

$1.8 million OK’d for Lower Cascade paths, with road closure decision on horizon

At its regular Monday meeting, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission approved a $1.8-million contract with Scenic Construction Services, Inc. for work in Lower Cascades Park on the city’s north side.

The project calls for construction of a quarter mile of paved trail from the Sycamore Shelter on the north end of the park to the waterfall parking lot, a new ADA-accessible boardwalk up to the waterfall, and stabilization of 430 feet of streambank.

The work is expected to start in early July, according to Bloomington parks operations director Tim Street. Street filled the position when Dave Williams retired.

Street told The Square Beacon that the hoped-for timing is after the Fourth of July weekend.

The project is being funded from a mix of tax increment finance (TIF) revenue, “bicentennial” bonds,  and 2016 parks general obligation bonds, according to the RDC resolution approved on Monday.

The current pilot closure of the road through Lower Cascades Park is related geographically to the trail construction and streambank stabilization. On June 22, the three-member board of public works is expected to take a vote on a permanent road closure.

According to the city, the conversion of the road to a route just for bicycles and pedestrians is intended to: “expand and integrate with Bloomington’s network of walking and biking trails; provide a safe, accessible destination for recreation and exercise; and to offer bicycle commuters additional options for safer routes.”

Accessibility issues related to the possible road closure also got some discussion from RDC members on Monday.

The road closure affects the distance someone would have to cover without a motor vehicle to reach the Waterfall Shelter from the nearest parking spot. Continue reading “$1.8 million OK’d for Lower Cascade paths, with road closure decision on horizon”

Opinion: Preserving live closed captions for post-pandemic times should get focus now

Monday of Christmas week was the last meeting of 2020 for Bloomington’s redevelopment commission (RDC).

It was a landmark event for a city of Bloomington government meeting.

It was not special because the meeting was held using Zoom’s video-conferencing platform. Video-conferenced public meetings have been standard since the spring. That’s when Indiana governor Eric Holcomb’s emergency health order made remote participation legal for government officials.

What made the RDC meeting special was the automatic closed captioning and live transcription function for the Zoom video-conferencing software, which had been activated for the first time.

The following week, the regular press conference of local leaders about COVID-19 pandemic response also featured Zoom’s automatic closed captioning and transcription.

The improved accessibility of meetings to the Deaf, or people who are hearing impaired, is an obvious benefit.

It’s a benefit for everyone. Continue reading “Opinion: Preserving live closed captions for post-pandemic times should get focus now”

Monroe County election board settles on 28 polling sites for Nov. 3 election

At its meeting last Tuesday, Monroe County’s election board settled on polling sites for the Nov. 3 general election. The county’s 82 precincts will be assigned to 28 different locations.

Purple dots denote polling locations in Monroe County for the Nov. 3, 2020, general election. Image links to a less arty, more practical dynamic map. For official information about where you are supposed to vote, consult or Monroe County’s Election Central website.

Several of the locations combine precincts. Voters can find their voting location using online tools at or by checking Monroe County’s Election Central website list.

Those tools require knowing your precinct. One way to match your address to the correct precinct is to use Monroe County’s interactive precinct map.

By last Tuesday’s board meeting, just one polling site had been hanging in the balance from a few previous meetings, as the board worked through the selection process. That was Genesis Church on the SR 45/46 bypass on the north side of Bloomington.

Genesis won’t be used for this fall’s election. Precincts that have been assigned to Genesis Church in the past will instead vote at Unitarian Universalist Church on Fee Lane.

On Tuesday, the board heard about another, unexpected change from the tentative list that the board had settled on at previous meetings. Emmanuel Baptist on That Road had dropped out of the mix. Replacing Emmanuel Baptist will be Southside Christian Church, which was used for the June 2 primary.

Southside Christian is on the east side of I-69, the same side as Emmanuel Baptist. That helped persuade board members that there are no extra psychological barriers associated with Southside Christian. Continue reading “Monroe County election board settles on 28 polling sites for Nov. 3 election”

Accessible polling sites in a pandemic: Monroe County election board grapples with decisions

By next Tuesday, Monroe County’s three-member election board needs to decide the final locations of polling sites for the Nov. 3 general election.

One of the sites has a steep concrete slope leading to an entrance.  Board members are trying to figure out how to make it accessible for people who use wheelchairs to get around.

Another key consideration for poll site selection is the amount of space available for creating adequate distance between voters, to reduce chances of spreading the COVID-19 virus.

At the last couple Tuesday afternoon election board meetings, which are planned weekly until further notice, board members have discussed site selection issues.

They also reviewed the precautions that being taken to protect voters and poll workers from spread of COVID-19 at the polls. That’s a consideration for some people who might be considering taking a turn as a poll worker this year. Continue reading “Accessible polling sites in a pandemic: Monroe County election board grapples with decisions”