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Public shares feedback on Illinois Route 9 projects at IDOT meeting

 Two IDOT members speak with Bernie Deany, husband of Dorothy Deany, about the construction timeline for upcoming I-9 corridor projects.
Eric Stock
Two IDOT staffers speak with Bernie Deany about the construction timeline for upcoming Route 9 corridor projects.

At an Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) public information meeting Wednesday, members of the public expressed approval of pavement resurfacing along the Illinois Route 9 corridor and accommodations for pedestrians and cyclists, but were wary of how long the projects will take to complete.

While large-scale projects like these naturally take time to finish, frustration is understandable — especially when it pertains to safety.

The total stretch of construction is nearly 7 1/2 miles of road, and will cost $15.2 million during the first three phases through 2027; 80% of the funding is federal dollars. The rest comes from the state.

The work has been planned since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

Veterans Parkway and Empire Street crosswalk

One of the proposed Route 9 projects is installing a crosswalk at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Empire Street, one of the most dangerous intersections in Bloomington. Not much is known about it, though.

Brian Hogan, an IDOT project support engineer, said a feasibility study was completed within the last year. At Wednesday’s meeting at Bloomington Junior High School, Hogan said he is “not sure what is going to go in there at this point in time.”

The unknown details surrounding this crosswalk and its back end placement in the construction schedule have led to frustration for some. Bloomington resident Melanie Johnson wishes it was coming sooner.

"Unfortunately we’re on the 2028 side of the design, so that’s frustrating,” said Johnson. “We were hoping to get a crosswalk across Veterans sooner than that, but it doesn’t sound like that’s gonna happen until 2028. So that’s probably my main concern.”

The construction timeline for work on Illinois Route 9.
Eric Stock
The construction timeline for work on Illinois Route 9.

Johnson said she’s especially concerned because her son has had to take longer routes, cutting through different streets and parking lots, to get to school. The intersection would streamline travel and make things much safer for her son, but she said, “It doesn’t look like any of that’s gonna go in until my kids are out of school.”

Another member of the public, Keith Rich, also noted the length of the project.

“Looks to me like it’s a long project, apparently,” said Rich. “Hopefully it’ll come to some fruition in the future."

Route 9 corridor accessibility

Increased accessibility for pedestrians and cyclists was praised at the meeting.

Rich said he came to the meeting primarily to see how it would accommodate those people. He, as well as Johnson, said they are pleased with the proposed addition of a 10-foot multi-use path running along the north side of Empire Street from Towanda Avenue to Carnahan Drive.

“I’m excited about having a corridor, like one easy pedestrian corridor from one end of the city to the other. I think that’s something that’s long overdue,” said Johnson.

The corridor also will be resurfaced. That’s something Rich thinks everyone will be glad about.

“Everybody’s going to be looking forward to the resurfacing of the whole corridor and the upgrading of the intersections as well,” he said.

The overhaul to the corridor’s accessibility to non-motorists is something Dorothy Deany appreciates. She works at the St. Vincent de Paul Society food pantry on Roosevelt Avenue. She said there is a wide variety of people who come through each day, but in its current state, the corridor isn’t able to properly accommodate all of their modes of transportation.

“ Where we work at the food pantry, we see about 200 cars come through on a Monday to get food. And then we also have 40 people who either walk up, or ride a bike or bring a cart. And so we’ve got to consider those people, definitely,” said Deany. “There are a lot of people who don’t have vehicles, and they need a way to get around.”

The traffic signals along the corridor will be modernized, according to IDOT, and some curbs and gutters will be replaced.

An 8-foot sidewalk along the north and south sides of Market Street from MLK Drive to Hinshaw Avenue also is in the works.

IDOT’s Hogan noted “a really good turnout” at the meeting. He said the most common concerns from the public were about how their personal property would be affected, and questions about on-street parking.

He said six on-street parking spots may be lost throughout the entire job through 2028.

Jack Podlesnik was a reporter and announcer at WGLT. He joined the station in 2021.