First Phase Of Downtown Alley Activation Substantially Completed, Among Bicentennial Bonds Projects Underway

(BLOOMINGTON) – The improvement and activation of three blocks of alleys around the downtown square is among the public improvement projects announced in Bloomington’s bicentennial year that have seen substantial progress in 2020.

Proposed by Mayor John Hamilton as a gift to Bloomington’s future and supported by a $10 million bond approved by the Bloomington Common Council in 2018, these investments in accessibility and quality of life have provided additional value during this year’s public health and economic crises by expanding opportunities for safe, outdoor recreation and fostering employment. A report on several of the Bicentennial Bond projects follows:  

Downtown Alley Activation

The first phase of the project to activate and enhance three blocks of alleys near the downtown square was substantially completed November 30. In this phase of the project to increase the safety and appeal of the city’s downtown as a destination for community enjoyment and economic activity, the alleys in the two blocks between Sixth and Seventh Streets from College Avenue to Washington Streets received full depth concrete replacement, with enhanced drainage and improved approach aprons. E&B Paving, LLC completed the first phase of the project at a contracted cost of $661,200, awarded by the Board of Public Works September 1. Similar improvements are tentatively scheduled for the alleys in the block just east of the courthouse square in Spring 2021.   

Earlier this summer, City of Bloomington Utilities replaced a century-old water main running beneath the east-west alley in the block between College and Walnut and another section of pipe of similar vintage running along West Sixth Street, and updated the sprinkler system serving adjacent residential structures. The project will include the installation of pedestrian walkways in all of the alleys, with east-west alleys closed to motor vehicles upon completion of the project. In subsequent phases of the alley activation project, local art and decorative lighting will be installed in coordination with the City’s Department of Economic and Sustainable Development, Downtown Bloomington, Inc., and business owners.   

The 7-Line

With construction of its first phase scheduled for spring and summer 2021, the 7-Line will provide a protected two-way east-west bicycle lane and improved bus corridor on Seventh Street from the B-Line Trail to Woodlawn Avenue. Currently in the final design stage, the 7-Line will enhance and expand the conventional bike lane that already exists along parts of Seventh Street by physical separation between bicyclists and auto traffic to improve comfort, safety and efficiency for all road users. The City continues to consult with property owners on details of the design, and will host a public meeting in January to present the final project design. This significant artery between downtown and the Indiana University campus is designed to increase ridership and improve access to nearby destinations. Building on the success and transformative effect of the B-Line, the 7-Line is projected to extend east of the IU campus in subsequent phases. The project’s design consultant is Indianapolis-based American Structurepoint. Information about the 7-Line will be updated here.  

Cascades Trail 

The Lower Cascades Pilot Trail Conversion Project has temporarily converted a 0.6-mile section of Old State Road 37 North (from the IMI quarry entrance to the southernmost playground parking lot) to a bike/pedestrian trail in Lower Cascades Park. The project seeks to expand and integrate with Bloomington’s network of walking and bicycle trails; provide a safe, accessible destination for recreation and exercise; and offer bicycle commuters additional options for safer routes. Closed to motor vehicles since March 13, the trail pilot has been extended until June 30, 2021. Users are invited to respond to a survey collecting information on the impact of the road conversion pilot that will inform decision-making about the trail’s future. Currently the city’s widest trail, the converted road also gives users a unique opportunity during the current public health crisis for physical distancing while exercising outdoors. Information about parking and answers to other frequently asked questions are available here.    

New East- West Trail 

Design is currently underway for a new 1.3-mile trail that will run from the west side of Rogers Street across from the entrance to Switchyard Park, alongside RCA Park, to the east side of Weimer Road. In the future, the trail could provide connectivity to City properties including Wapehani Mountain Bike Park, Twin Lakes Recreation Center and the Clear Creek Trail. Creating much-needed trail access from the city’s southwest side to the B-Line Trail and downtown, the trail is planned to be constructed along Duke Energy’s easement. 

Griffy Loop Trail 

This spectacular planned six-mile loop trail will allow hikers to circumnavigate Griffy Lake. The trail will join the lake’s north shore to its south shore, provide missing trail links south of the lake, and connect to a new accessible fishing pier that will be constructed on the west side of Headley Road (to be financed by a General Obligation Parks Bond). The trail will cross the Griffy Lake dam and a pedestrian walkway will be built along Headley Road to provide safe access for hikers and anglers. The project, which was scheduled to go out for bid in August 2020, has been delayed by a longer than anticipated permit application review process that will allow trail construction on the Griffy Lake dam.  The revised timeline anticipates the project will be put out to bid in March 2021.  A map of the planned loop and existing trails at Griffy Lake Nature Preserve is available here.