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City council begins review of transportation plan



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City Council meets Jan. 23 to discuss a new transportation plan for Bloomington. The transportation plan is an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, which is the city’s latest long-term plan for land use and development. Samuel Arvin Buy Photos

The Bloomington City Council began Wednesday the process of reviewing the city’s new transportation plan.

The transportation plan is an amendment to the Comprehensive Plan, which is the city’s latest long-term plan for land use and development.

Staff from the Bloomington Planning and Transportation Department attended Wednesday’s meeting to introduce the transportation plan.

One main goal of the plan is to connect more streets to decrease traffic density on main roads. 

Another goal is to adapt streets to be more practical for the spaces they’re in. For example, the plan proposes a redesign of Kirkwood Avenue that would remove curbs to make the street more accessible to bikers and pedestrians. This would improve design for street fairs and businesses.

The plan aims to improve safety in areas prone to car and bicycle crashes. Considerations are still being made on how to best improve safety, but possibilities include protected bike lanes, which are separated from the road by a barrier, and multiuse paths and designated lanes for buses.

Extending the B-Line Trail, the bike trail that runs through Bloomington, through the northwest part of the city is another priority of the plan. Neighborhood greenways, also known as bikeways, are also in the plan to increase ease of bicycle use.

The first draft of the transportation plan was made public in July. Toole Design Group, a consulting firm hired by the city, took feedback, and a second draft was made public in September.

The city’s Plan Commission, a board of city residents, made amendments to the plan in the fall and published the latest version of the plan on the city’s website in December 2018.

Each of these ideas was discussed Wednesday night. The next two city council meetings will be used to dig deeper into the plans’ details.

One concern brought up Wednesday night by residents and council members was future plans for Bloomington Transit, the city’s bus system, which is not included in the new transportation plan. One resident questioned the efficiency of public transportation because of Bloomington’s suburban sprawl. 

Residents’ comments were heavily focused on pedestrian access to the city. Some said sidewalks should be widened, but others said they’d be happy if they didn’t get any more narrow as street designs change.

Scott Robinson, assistant director of the Planning and Transportation Commission, said his commission will continue to offer opportunities for public feedback.

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