BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (WMBD) — On one of Bloomington-Normal’s busiest roads, safety is the concern of lawmakers.
Congressmen Rodney Davis and Darin LaHood announced Wednesday that the McLean County Regional Planning Commission was awarded $100,000 as part of the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grant.
The grant will help develop a plan that makes Veteran’s Parkway more pedestrian friendly.
Executive Director of the McLean County Regional Planning Commission Raymond Lai said the road was originally built in the 1940s, and developments around it has taken off since 80 years ago.
“Eighty years ago, it was mainly farmland,” Lai said. “I think we recognize the condition of this roadway. It was designed originally as a bypass, but growth and development have evolved over time, and the characteristics of the roadway have changed.”
The $100,000 will help officials with the McLean County Regional Planning Commission, Illinois Department of Transportation (I-DOT) and elected officials find ways to make the bypass more accessible for all modes of transportation including public transit and bicycles.
“It’s not conducive at all to public transit, pedestrians, or people who want to ride bicycles,” Lai said.
Bloomington Police Department public information office John Fermon said the road was not designed to have pedestrians crossing the street and hopes a re-design addresses that issue.
“Currently the way it’s designed, you’d have to walk maybe a half a mile north or south to actually get to a crosswalk, so that makes it very difficult for pedestrians or people needing to cross the road,” Fermon said.
Fermon said in 2019, two people were hit crossing the road, and one died.
“It’s kind of a high-speed [area] and there are five lanes of traffic. It’s kind of confusing and all-around it’s pretty difficult,” Fermon said.
Lai said this is just the planning phase, but any future projects may include improved signage, ramps with rolling access for individuals with disabilities, and enhanced pedestrian, bicycle, and transit facilities.
“Those are some of the things that can be done. I’m not minimizing those, but in addition to those, I’m sure there will be other things considered,” Lai said.
Lai said they will be asking the public for its input.
Veterans Parkway is an I-DOT maintained route. I-DOT spokesperson, Paul Wappel sent WMBD a statement that reads:
“IDOT provided assistance in putting the RAISE grant together because Business 55/Veteran’s Parkway is one of our routes and we want to see what the City of Bloomington’s plans are for the future.“
“This is an important step being undertaken by the McLean County Regional Planning Commission to develop a safer Veterans Parkway in Bloomington-Normal,” said Rep. Davis. “As a member of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, I will continue to be an advocate for projects that are critical to the communities I serve. Thank you to Secretary Buttigieg and the Administration for recognizing the importance of investing in central Illinois’ infrastructure.”
McLean County is working hard to develop a safer and more efficient Veterans Parkway in Bloomington-Normal,” said Rep. LaHood. “This important funding will help identify improvements and engage local community members to enhance the transportation system. In Congress, I will continue to work with Congressman Davis to support McLean County.”