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Adam Wason
Director of Public Works
wasona@bloomington.in.gov
812-349-3516

 

Traffic Mitigating Measures Along West Third Street Will Continue


Bloomington, Ind. - Drone footage and officer reports have shown that the City of Bloomington’s pilot program to mitigate congestion on West Third Street related to construction of the I-69 interchange has had a positive impact during the hours it has been in effect.  After evaluating the measures implemented May 22-25, Mayor John Hamilton has announced that the City will again place Bloomington Police Department personnel at five intersections along West Third Street during the coming work week. From May 29 through June 1, from 3:45 p.m. until the heaviest traffic subsides around 6 p.m., officers will be flagging westbound drivers through traffic lights at Franklin Drive, on the overpass, at Gates Drive and at Liberty Drive.

According to photographic evidence gathered by drone aircraft, as well as the accounts of the officers stationed at the intersections, delays along the section of the route between the railroad crossing on the east side of I-69 to Liberty Drive have been significantly reduced during those peak hours when the officers are present.

Prior to May 22, traffic along West Third Street had slowed down considerably during the evening rush hour as a result of the lane reconfigurations necessitated by construction of that route’s interchange with I-69, a project led by the Indiana Department of Transportation.  

“I know how frustrating it has been on some of our major roads on the west side lately,” said Hamilton.  “As INDOT puts the finishing touches on the I-69 interchanges, we wanted to try some new things on our end to make things a little easier for folks on their way home. Thanks for your continued patience as the interstate is being completed, and please be aware of our officers on duty when you’re driving.”  

INDOT’s projected completion of the Tapp Road interchange with I-69 over the Memorial Day weekend and the resolution of the West Second Street interchange expected in late June will restore critical east-west corridors as the summer progresses and should provide some relief to drivers. INDOT has slated the completion of the West Third Street exchange for August.

It is anticipated that another key east-west artery on the southwest side will be cleared in late June when the county-led project to repair a bridge on Country Club Road is scheduled to be completed, weather permitting.  

At the same time, the intersection improvement project at Tapp and Rockport that has been under consideration in various iterations by the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for 10 years is scheduled to begin June 11 and to be complete by mid-November.  The City of Bloomington Utilities Department’s sanitary sewer installation at Grimes and Walnut is set to begin in early June and is scheduled to be complete by August 8, to coincide with the MCCSC summer break. The county’s Fullerton Pike Phase I Reconstruction Project has closed Rhorer Road between Walnut Street and Walnut Street Pike since the beginning of the month. The road is expected to be closed for 150 days.

Updates about Bloomington roads are posted at https://bloomington.in.gov/inroads/events.  To avoid delays involved with crossing I-69 at West Second or West Third Street, INDOT recommends using exits at Fullerton Pike, Vernal Pike, and Indiana State Road 46.  

As this summer’s busy schedule of infrastructure improvements progresses, the City of Bloomington continues to coordinate with other local and state agencies to reduce the overlap of adjacent construction timelines and implement measures to lessen inconvenience to residents and visitors. Although the completion of projects by various entities to make intersections safer, repair bridges, update sewers, and complete Section 5 of I-69 is long overdue, the simultaneous works in progress have been challenging for commuters.

Bloomington has traditionally seen an active construction schedule during the warmer months.  In addition to the minimum temperatures and dry conditions necessitated by certain building materials, the seasonal absence of the majority of Indiana University’s student population reduces the volume of traffic on the roads and reduces the number of residents inconvenienced.    

This year’s construction season is unusually intensive because of concurrent initiatives led by the State of Indiana, the Monroe County government, the Bloomington/Monroe County Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO), the City of Bloomington, the City’s Utilities Department, and Indiana University.  Some of the projects have been fast-tracked for completion during this season because of pressing financial, environmental, or safety concerns, including those following:

  • The County-led repair of the bridge on Country Club Drive was prompted by a routine inspection that revealed accelerated deterioration demanding prompt attention.  

  • The City of Bloomington Utilities’ sanitary sewer installation at Grimes and Walnut is being undertaken in response to recurring sanitary sewer overflows, causing environmental damage and violating standards set by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM). Delaying the installation would have led to financial penalties from IDEM and additional costs of $348,000, if construction were deferred until 2019.

  • The two-year delay in INDOT’s completion of Section 5 of I-69 has had the domino effect of stalling nearby projects, including the long-planned intersection improvement project at Tapp and Rockport Roads, led by the MPO. Federal funding for the project must be used by December 2018.

The multiple agencies at the helm of the improvement projects have engaged in thorough, long-term planning with one another and in tandem with affected organizations including MCCSC Transportation, Bloomington Transit, and emergency services toward the goal of shortening delays and reducing congestion. The coordinated efforts to improve traffic include the following:

  • City and County invested up to $30,000 each to accelerate the Country Club Bridge project to minimize overlap with other projects.

  • City of Bloomington Utilities invested $18,000 to accelerate the Grimes Lane sewer interceptor project, to allow starting after MCCSC schools close for the summer while still planning to finish before they reopen on August 8.

  • City’s Planning and Transportation Department has voluntarily delayed the intersection improvement project and sidepath construction at Henderson and Winslow.

  • City is offering a text alert feature providing in-the-moment notifications and weekly forecasts.

  • City is using drones to gather data on traffic patterns and implement necessary changes.

  • County is providing a weekly traffic and construction project update in public meetings, on social and print media, and will launch a platform for residents to receive updates on the status of county projects.

  • Modification of traffic signals at selected intersections is being explored to facilitate flow.

  • Traffic updates will be posted at the city-dedicated site (https://bloomington.in.gov/inroads/), on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

  • MCCSC is consolidating the summer school schedule to reduce traffic.

  • City is partnering with IU to launch a bikeshare program.

  • City will install traffic calming devices in neighborhoods that may experience heavier traffic as a result of detours.

  • City and County will evaluate retaining temporary signaling at South Rogers Street and West Gordon Pike during duration of Tapp/Rockport intersection improvement.  

How to commute smarter this summer:

  • Text “roads” to 812-558-5987 to receive traffic alerts from the city.

  • Download WAZE or similar navigation apps to help determine the least congested route and help others by posting updates of conditions you encounter.

  • Consult https://bloomington.in.gov/inroads/events before you head out.

  • Follow @CityBloomington to get road updates on Facebook.

  • Follow @BtownRoads on Twitter.

  • Watch traffic footage collected by City drone at the City’s YouTube channel

  • Consider walking or biking to work or for errands, using your bike or the bikeshare program.

  • Start or join a carpool.

  • Explore the possibilities of telecommuting and flex scheduling at your place of work.

 

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