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Joe Walden, left, looks over a map of Illinois 9 through Bloomington on Thursday, July 11, 2019, at City Hall. Members of the public attended an open-house-style meeting to learn more about a state plan to add bike lanes to significant portions of Illinois 9/Empire Street and remove some on-street parking.

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.

At public hearing July 11 the city sought additional public input before deciding whether to concur with IDOT's design.

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.

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Contact Maria Nagle at (309) 820-3244. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Nagle

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Bloomington Reporter

Bloomington reporter for The Pantagraph.

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