Bloomington trail closures, detours to be decided “in collaboration” with engineering department

Signage for closure of The B Line during the recent removal of some callery pear trees. (From slide presented by parks operation director Tim Streets at the board of park commissioners Jan. 24, 2023 meeting.)
The signage for the closure of The B-Line Trail in 2022 near the Johnson’s Creamery smokestack came in the form of an 8.5 x 11 laminated sheet, which is barely visible on the chain link fence.

Under a new policy, when multi-use trails in Bloomington are closed—because of work by contractors or a dangerous situation—a detour has to be provided that gives trail users a convenient alternate route.

The policy was adopted by Bloomington’s board of park commissioners at its regular meeting on Tuesday.

Under the new policy, the closure has to be marked with signage that’s compliant with the Indiana Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).

The policy also says that the decisions by the board about trail closures and detours have to be made “in collaboration” with the city engineer.

The development of the policy came after complaints about the city’s implementation last year of a detour and signage for a B-Line closure. That closure was made in connection with the unsafe building order issued by the city for the Johnson’s Creamery smokestack. Continue reading “Bloomington trail closures, detours to be decided “in collaboration” with engineering department”

City of Bloomington: Unsafe building order for Johnson’s Creamery smokestack, section of B-Line Trail to be closed

In a news release issued early Thursday morning, the city of Bloomington announced that it has issued an “Unsafe Building Order to Repair” to the owners of the the old Johnson’s Creamery building on 7th Street, across the B-Line Trail from city hall.

The building is owned by Peerless Capital of Chicago, Illinois. It’s the site of planned new housing construction that would incorporate the existing structure. According to the news release, the unsafe order was issued under city code  and state statue.

The reason for the unsafe building order, according to Thursday’s news release, is the 140-foot-tall smokestack, which is located on the property. The iconic smokestack has vertical lettering that reads “Johnson’s” on its east side.

The B-Line Trail, where it passes between city hall and the Johnson’s Creamery building, will be closed off, according to the news release. As of around 8 a.m. Thursday morning, the B-Line was still open. [Updated 2:53 p.m. on Jan. 13, 2022: The latest word from the city is that as of around 11 a.m. the fencing has been installed.] Continue reading “City of Bloomington: Unsafe building order for Johnson’s Creamery smokestack, section of B-Line Trail to be closed”

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. Continue reading “Multimodal update: Total right-of-way acquisition costs for 2 Bloomington paths drop by $1.4M”

Bloomington acts on plan to nix 7th Street stop signs to aid traffic flow for bicycle lane

Washington Street looking south at 7th Street. (Dave Askins/B Square 2021-10-09)

In a news release issued on Friday (Oct. 8), the city of Bloomington publicized its removal of stop signs along 7th Street at cross streets between Walnut Street and Indiana Avenue.

The removal of the stop signs is intended to help the traffic flow on 7th Street.

The east-west street will eventually see the completion of the 7-Line, a separated bicycle lane, which is under construction on the south side of the roadway. The two-way bicycle lane on 7th Street will stretch from the B-Line on the west, to Woodlawn Avenue on the east.

In transportation engineering terms, what the city is implementing is a new “traffic pattern.”

As a practical matter, the removal of stop signs on 7th Street means that motorists and other users of the cross streets will have to be alert. The traffic on 7th Street no longer has to stop at four intersections.

Vehicles on Washington, Lincoln, Grant, and Dunn streets will continue to see a stop sign when they reach the 7th Street intersection.

To help get drivers and other users of the roadway accustomed to the new traffic pattern, yellow “Cross Traffic Does Not Stop” signage has been attached to the stop signs for cross streets. Electronic signs that flash a warning about the new traffic pattern have also been placed at some of the intersections.

The removal of the 7th Street stop signs was approved by Bloomington’s city council over a year ago, on Aug. 12, 2020. Continue reading “Bloomington acts on plan to nix 7th Street stop signs to aid traffic flow for bicycle lane”

Friday, Aug. 20 deadline posted: B-Line bridge encampment removal to be guided by new general police order

View of the B-Line Trail bridge at Grimes Lane looking northeast. (Aug. 17, 2021)

Bloomington officials are now looking to remove the encampment under the B-Line Trail bridge at Grimes Lane. It was established around four and half months ago.

On Tuesday, sometime before 5 p.m., several signs were posted by the city of Bloomington under the bridge and along the trail. The signs give formal notice of a deadline for the campers to find a different place to sleep.

Over the last few weeks, the camp’s footprint has expanded north of the bridge to include around a dozen tents along the east side of the B-Line Trail.

The posted signs read: “If you stay here overnight, please find safe shelter elsewhere by Friday, Aug. 20.”

The signs include a list of resources like the Shalom Community Center, Friends Place, Wheeler Mission, and New Hope Family Shelter.

No clock time is given for the deadline.

That’s consistent with the city’s past approach to such posted notices. The signs posted in Seminary Park at the start of the year described the deadline as “on or about Jan. 11.” Action by the city to remove the Seminary Park campers came on Jan. 14.

A prelude to the city’s posting of notices on Tuesday came a day earlier. That’s when the mayor’s office released a document described as updating the city of Bloomington “policies regarding behaviors in and use of public spaces with the goals of improving safety and health, and maintaining public space for the benefit of all.”

A highlight of the document is a new general police order, dated Aug. 13, 2021, with the title “Police Interaction with Homeless Encampments.” The order describes certain procedures that are supposed to be followed by the police when removing a homeless encampment.

Continue reading “Friday, Aug. 20 deadline posted: B-Line bridge encampment removal to be guided by new general police order”

Bloomington expands private security to 7 more parks across city, including B-Line Trail

Private unarmed security patrols will now be checking a total of eight parks in Bloomington, a collection that extends a bit farther, north-to-south, than the extent of the B-Line Trail.

The $52,500 contract addendum with Marshall Security, to cover the additional parks, was approved by Bloomington’s board of park commissioners at its Tuesday afternoon meeting.

That brings the total amount of the contract with Marshall to $113,000. The money is being drawn from CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act funds.

At their June meeting, park commissioners approved the initial $60,588 contract, which included just Switchyard Park, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day of the week. The reason given for the Switchyard Park security was an increase in after-hours vandalism and substance use, and overnight camping.

For the additional parks and the trail, the additional private security is needed because of “a number of incidents that have occurred lately on both the B-Line trail and in several other…core corridor parks around the downtown area,” according to Tim Street, who’s operations and development division director for Bloomington parks and recreation.

The list of parks to be patrolled by Marshall is now: Switchyard Park, RCA Park, Seminary Park, B-Line Trail, Building Trades Park, Rev Ernest D. Butler Park, Crestmont Park, Miller-Showers Park, and Waldron Hill Buskirk Park. Continue reading “Bloomington expands private security to 7 more parks across city, including B-Line Trail”

$1M for hospital redev design work OK’d by Bloomington RDC, 7-Line bicycle lane gets $673K funding backstop

At its regular meeting on Monday, Bloomington’s redevelopment commission gave funding approvals for infrastructure projects in two different parts of town, which are connected by the B-Line non-motorized trail.

For design work on the redevelopment of the IU Health hospital site, at 2nd and Rogers streets, the RDC approved a $1,048,880 contract with Shrewsberry and Associates, a firm with local offices and corporate headquarters in Indianapolis.

The scope of work in Shrewsberry’s contract is related to the part of the hospital site master plan called “Phase 1 East.”

Shrewsberry’s work includes, among other tasks, a topographic survey of the block bounded by 2nd, Morton, 1st, and Rogers streets. That’s the eastern portion of the site.

The whole site is planned for redevelopment as a mix of commercial space and between  580 and 940 new housing units.

After IU Health moves to its new facility on SR 46 towards the end of 2021, Bloomington will take control of the site in a $6.5 million real estate deal.

The soon-to-be-former hospital site sits just to the west of the north-south B-Line non-motorized trail. About a half mile north of the hospital site, the B-Line intersects with 7th Street at the western edge of the 7-Line protected bicycle lane, now under construction.

At its meeting on Monday, the RDC approved $673,609 in consolidated tax increment financing (TIF) funds to be used towards what is now a project with a total estimated cost of $3.2 million. Continue reading “$1M for hospital redev design work OK’d by Bloomington RDC, 7-Line bicycle lane gets $673K funding backstop”

Advisory groups give green light to city council on 7th Street: Remove parking for protected bicycle lane

College to Walnut Screen unimproved 7-Line aerial 10.33.35 PM
Segment of 7th Street between College Avenue and Walnut Street in downtown Bloomington.
College to Walnut Screen 7-Line aerial 10.33.35 PM
The images shows the segment of 7th Street between College Avenue and Walnut Street. The top image shows current parking and lane conditions. The lower image is a rendering of the 7-Line protected bicycle lane project. Both images link to an animated .gif of them alternating.

On Thursday, at its first regular meeting since the end of January, Bloomington’s parking commission reviewed the protected bicycle lane project that’s going to be built on 7th Street sometime in 2021.

It was in front of the commission because the 7-Line, to be built as a two-way bicycle path on the south side of the roadway, will require the removal of 113 on-street metered parking spaces. It’s the loss of parking spaces that has generated some concern among property owners along the corridor, among them the Monroe County government.

Parking commissioners gave a unanimous recommendation in support of the planning and transportation staff’s finding—that the three-quarter-mile bicycle lane from the B-Line Trail to the Indiana University campus at Woodlawn supports several goals of the city’s comprehensive plan and squares up with the city’s transportation plan.

As Beth Rosenbarger, Bloomington’s planning services manager, pointed out to parking commissioners, the city’s transportation plan calls for a protected bicycle lane along 7th Street. Continue reading “Advisory groups give green light to city council on 7th Street: Remove parking for protected bicycle lane”

7-Line protected bicycle lane: Bicentennial bond backgrounder

The 7-Line is a planned protected bicycle lane running east-west across downtown Bloomington towards the Indiana University campus.

It gets the numeric part of its name from 7th Street, where the 11-foot wide, two-way path will be constructed along the south side of the roadway, sometime in 2021. The non-numeric part of its name is patterned on the B-Line Trail, the north-south multi-use path along the former CSX railroad route that stretches 3.1 miles from Adams Street to Country Club Drive.

The 7-Line will connect to the B-Line just east of Madison Street.

The project has received increased exposure in the last week, as final design details are worked out.

Last Thursday (June 18), the project was introduced in more detail to the public. On Wednesday this week, the traffic commission was asked to weigh in on the changes to city code that are required for the removal of 113 metered parking spaces and the elimination of east-west stop signs at most of the cross streets.

This Thursday (June 25) the parking commission is getting its second look at the project, after discussing it at a work session earlier in the month.

The now-estimated $2 million construction cost will be paid for with parks bonds, which the city council and the board of park commissioners approved in late 2018, over a year and a half ago.

The three series of bonds, totaling $10.27 million were promoted by Bloomington mayor John Hamilton as “bicentennial bonds,” and pitched to the council as “a gift to the future, honoring Bloomington’s two hundred year anniversary.” Continue reading “7-Line protected bicycle lane: Bicentennial bond backgrounder”