BLOOMINGTON — The city has suggested changes that would reduce by two-thirds or more the loss of parking spaces called for in Illinois Department of Transportation plan to add bicycle lanes along the Illinois 9/Empire Street corridor.
IDOT's proposed project would have add 17,850 feet of bike lanes and 7,540 feet of shared lanes along Illinois 9 while eliminating between 200 to 250 parking spaces — a point that caused some residents to oppose the plan.
At public hearing July 11 the city sought additional public input before deciding whether to concur with IDOT's design.
"Because of the public feedback, the city has made a recommendation to IDOT to reduce the impact of the removal of 200 to 250 parking spaces down to 65," said Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch.
Karch said the city suggested IDOT create bike lanes on Chestnut Street, a route that is parallel to Illinois 9 and is already included in the city's Bicycle Master Plan.
"That would minimize the impact of parking space removal on our citizens," said Karch. "By shifting the bike accommodations to a parallel route, it prevents the removal of parking along Route 9."
The 65 parking spots still to be removed are in the area of Illinois Wesleyan University, which is "very supportive of bike lanes for their college students and their ability to have transportation corridors to get throughout the community," said Karch.
So IWU has requested in writing the removal of parking spaces in front of property it owns and controls so that bike lanes could be added, he said.
Illinois 9 borders the south end of IWU's campus.
“Bicycles serve as a convenient, cost-effective and eco-friendly transportation choice for many of our students, faculty and staff," said IWU spokesman John Twork.
"As a nationally recognized bicycle-friendly university, we were eager to seize this opportunity for the addition of a bike lane which will connect our campus to the Constitution Trail and the rest of the Bloomington-Normal community,” he added.
Karch said he sees the city's recommendations as a good compromise "to take into account the concerns expressed by our citizens and allow for some wonderful bicycle accommodations along our state routes."
While city officials are awaiting IDOT's formal acceptance of the city's suggested changes, "the city has received verbal confirmation from IDOT that it will do everything it can to accommodate the city's requests," said Karch.