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020417-blm-loc-1nlrail

This architect's drawing from Normal's Uptown 2.0 plan shows how an underpass at Uptown Station might look. An underpass is among five railroad crossing options to be studied by consultant WSP Parsons Brinkerhoff of New York.

NORMAL — Farr Associates on Wednesday presented four more options for future development on the south side of the railroad tracks in uptown Normal that could involve rerouting traffic, moving city offices and building a new library.

It was the latest meeting to gather public input on an update to the uptown redevelopment plan, which expands uptown south of the tracks. The City Council will give its input to Farr during a working lunch Thursday.

Doug Farr said developing the south side would open the door to up to 13,500 more square feet of retail space, 155 residential units, 80,000 square feet for offices, and 1.54 acres of park land. All options include space for each.

Each option also includes a south-side drop-off area for Amtrak passengers and an underpass under the railroad tracks to get people from one side of the tracks to the other.

In one scenario, a park and a parking deck would be near the train tracks on the south side. A new north-south street would run down the middle of the area that extends to Vernon Avenue and would lead to a new library at Linden and Irving streets. Office and residential buildings would be between the library and the tracks. 

Phoenix Street, which now dead ends at the City Hall Annex, would become a through street.

Farr said the option would allow the police station and City Hall Annex buildings to remain where they are while the library and other things on the east side of the property were built. Eventually, the police station and City Hall Annex would have to move elsewhere to allow for the rest of the development.

In another option, the library would be built north of Irving Street along Linden. There would be a larger park near the railroad tracks. 

The third option would place the library right across from a new parking deck built close to the tracks. It also includes a smaller park by the tracks and a larger park at Linden and Irving streets.

In the final option, there would be a park in the middle of Linden north of Vernon and there would be one lane for traffic on each side of the park. The library would face the park and be on the west side of Linden. Farr said this option would make the neighborhood on the east side of Linden feel more included in uptown.

Farr also is suggesting College Avenue and Mulberry Street become two-way streets with on-street parking. Vernon and Linden would change to two-lane streets with central medians at some points to allow a safe place for pedestrians. There would be bicycle lanes on each side of the streets.

The final proposed plan is expected this summer.

Follow Mary Ann Ford on Twitter: @pg_ford

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