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Towanda Barnes, Ireland Grove Project Stirs Up More Debate

Baylee Steelman
McLean County and City of Bloomington officials meet constituents at the county highway department's South Garage for an open house on a proposal for the intersection of Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove roads.

An open house about plans to widen an east-side Bloomington intersection at Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove roads drew heat from residents Wednesday night.

The open forum was intended to give residents a look at a preliminary proposal for improvements to the intersection. Proposed improvements include a free-flow right turn lane on southbound Towanda Barnes, additional right turn lanes on Ireland Grove for the approach to Towanda Barnes, along with other geometric, drainage and signal improvements.

Dorothy Clifford, who attended Wednesday’s forum, said she disagrees with the project.

"I'm opposed to it because I live in Dunraven," said Clifford, referring to her nearby planned residential community. "I feel that there is going to be too much traffic going into Dunraven.”

Bloomington Public Works Director Jim Karch tried to convince Clifford a free-flow right turn lane on southbound Towanda Barnes Road at Ireland Grove would help her.

"I agree with you. What you're missing is that you've got all these cars bunched up together, and they're all going to go through all at once as opposed to just spitting them out,” Karch said to Clifford.

Clifford eventually said she changed her mind.

Other opponents claim taxpayer money would be better spent on roads closer to the city’s core and that high traffic at the intersection happens only a couple times a day.

McLean County Board member Scott Murphy from Downs, who represents District 2, said expanding the intersection is a good idea. (The intersection was the subject of a county board debate back in April.)

"I think it needs to be done. There is enough traffic out there to warrant it now,” Murphy said.

Charles Knudson said money would be better spent on a stop light at Streid Drive and Ireland Grove Road instead.

"That's a lot more of a dangerous intersection," said Knudson. "Maybe I miss the high travel times but I've been through there (Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove Roads) at 8 a.m., 7 a.m."

Bloomington and McLean County would split the $1.6 million project. If approved, construction could be done by next summer.

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Baylee Steelman joined us in November 2016. She is a journalism major graduating in May 2018. She mainly covers Bloomington City and Normal Town Council meetings, Unit 5 School Board meetings, produces the weekend News In Review, and helps run GLT events. Baylee also produces and anchors at TV-10, Illinois State University's student TV news station.
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