Infill vs. New Growth Debate Extends To McLean County Board

Apr 18, 2017

Proposed improvements to the intersection of Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove Roads would lessen commute times.
Credit Michael Hill / WGLT

There's debate on the McLean County Board over how much priority to give improvements at an east side intersection.

County Board members agreed on more discussion for the $1.6 million project at Towanda Barnes and Ireland Grove roads.

Board member Eric Rankin said reducing commute times is not a must do for him.

"I feel that $1.6 million to alleviate traffic concerns on the east side of Bloomington when we have $125 million in unfunded transportation projects really reeks of, is this the best way to use our money?" said Rankin.

Board member David Selzer supported reworking the intersection based for safety reasons.

"Understand, it's a turn lane. Cars are backing up on Towanda Barnes and are going to get rear ended, which is happening," said Selzer.

Other County Board members point to two years of studies justifying lengthening turn lanes.

The debate over the intersection mirrors one that took place recently over expanding a sewer line on the east side of Bloomington. Opponents, including Mayor Tari Renner and Alderman Scott Black, point to the city's 20-year comprehensive plan prioritizing improving older neighborhoods over encouraging growth on the fringe of town.
     
The county project would be a 50 percent cost share with Bloomington, if it is eventually approved. The turn lane project goes back to the County Board Transportation Committee for another round of talks.