(BLOOMINGTON) – The Bloomington Parks and Recreation Department is working with consultant Eagle Ridge Civil Engineering Services to study several options to connect the Cascades Park Trail to other trails in Bloomington by constructing a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly trail through Lower Cascades Park, from Clubhouse Drive south to College Avenue and Miller-Showers Park.
Potential funding to complete the section of trail has been identified through the City’s “Bicentennial Trees and Trails” bond funds.
The project requires finding an optimal balance between cost, environmental impact, roadway needs, and the ability to provide a trail that meets the safety concerns of trail users. This is partly a subjective decision, but the final decision will reflect current conditions and priorities. Minimizing negative impacts to the park’s natural beauty is a primary concern, along with how best to provide a safe, ADA-compliant path.
Eagle Ridge Civil Engineering Services has been contracted to lead a study to determine the best method for providing a connector trail through Lower Cascades Park. While a study of this area and the project’s feasibility was completed in 2007, Eagle Ridge Civil Engineering and the City of Bloomington feel it is appropriate to review the underlying goals and constraints to determine the best course of action for the creation of this connector trail.
A connection between Lower Cascades Park and Miller-Showers Park has long been desired, but the area between the parks includes challenging terrain, including a narrow corridor, steep hillsides, Cascades Creek and its streambank erosion issues, and utility and roadway conditions.
The Parks and Recreation Department and Eagle Ridge Civil Engineering are seeking feedback from stakeholders and Bloomington residents on what trail construction and/or road closure options the city should consider. An online survey is available at www.surveymonkey.com/r/CascadesTrail until March 31.
Options to be reviewed include a broad range of possibilities, including but not limited to:
- Closing Old State Road 37 North through Lower Cascades Park between Clubhouse Drive and North College Avenue to vehicles, and rehabilitating the pavement to create a bicycle and pedestrian trail.
- Converting Old State Road 37 North between Clubhouse Drive and North College Avenue to become half one-way road for vehicles and half a paved trail. Which direction to close will need to be considered.
- Create a sidepath, where the trail is new pavement located alongside the existing Old State Road 37 North.
- Create a separate trail that does not always follow the edge of the existing Old State Road 37 North.
These options are also to be considered in combination because the sections of the existing roadway are used differently depending on adjacent property use.
College Avenue to Gourley Pike also serves traffic that does not enter Lower Cascades Park and provides an alternative route to traveling State Road 45/46. Approximately 2,000 vehicles per day use the current roadway.
Gourley Pike to the entrance to the IMI Concrete Plant serves commercial use related to the concrete plant in addition to its use as park access.
IMI Concrete Plant north to the first paved/parking area presents the narrowest park section with the primary stream and hillside constraints and limited parking options.
The section from the first paved/parking area north to Clubhouse Drive hosts the park’s picnic shelters, playground, parking areas, and primary open recreational spaces. Commercial and other through traffic still use this section.