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IU postpones unstarted projects, Bloomington accelerates new construction



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Construction takes place May 13 behind McNutt Quad. Construction projects are considered essential and have been allowed to continue under Gov. Eric Holcomb's executive order. Alex Deryn

Due to the coronavirus, some Bloomington construction projects are starting early and some IU construction projects are postponed because funding is under review. Ongoing IU projects are continuing as planned.

According to Gov. Eric Holcomb’s plan to reopen Indiana, infrastructure and construction projects are able to continue as essential work.

City of Bloomington spokesperson Yaël Ksander said a bright spot amid the coronavirus pandemic has been the ability for construction projects to work without disrupting too much of daily life. She said normally there would be much more traffic during the last few months with students on campus and commencement traffic.

“Many of the projects are able to take place without as much disruption as they would have caused,” Ksander said.

The water main replacement project around the square began Monday. The project is replacing the oldest known water pipe in Bloomington, dating back to 1897. The project will last about four weeks with road closures on West Sixth and West Seventh streets, according to a City of Bloomington press release.

After the water main is replaced, the alley activation and pavement restoration project will begin. The project is one of Mayor John Hamilton’s seven public improvement Bicentennial projects. Ksander said the alleyways will feature special lighting, artwork and better pavement.

“The idea is to work on some of the downtown alleys to make them more exciting,” Ksander said. “Rather than just a place to make a shortcut.”

Some city projects have been accelerated due to the lack of students and foot traffic, Ksander said. The Kirkwood Avenue Maintenance project will replace deteriorated crosswalks and curb ramps while adding removable posts.The Kirkwood renovation project was originally set to begin May 11 but began six weeks early on April 1.

“The improvements will make life much sweeter for when people come back to Bloomington,” Ksander said.

The city is providing ways for workers to stay safe along with encouraging hygienic practices. Ksander said the city is implementing leave options available through the CARES Act. She said workers can receive a paid-leave option for up to 12 weeks if they need to take time to care for themselves, loved ones or children. Vehicles are sanitized routinely and workers are encouraged to drive separately rather than together in city vehicles.

IU spokesperson Chuck Carney said all ongoing construction is on track to be completed as planned. 

Foster and McNutt Quads are still set to finish for the 2020 fall semester. The Collins Center renovation is on hold for review like many other unstarted projects.

Carney said projects planned with already allocated funds are set to move forward. However, some projects are being temporarily put on hold until the university sets a budget for the next fiscal year regarding how to best utilize state appropriations.

“We're in sort of an uneasy situation regarding funding with the uncertainty that's happened with all of this,” Carney said. “We need to make sure of what our budget resources are going to pay for those things.”

One of those projects includes the new Stephen L. and Connie J. Ferguson International Center. The start date has been pushed back due to funding not yet being allocated for the project.

Privately funded projects are still able to continue as planned. There is a proposed new building for the Eskenazi School of Art, Architecture and Design. Carney said it is fully funded by the Eskenazi family so it will proceed without disruption.

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