Press release: Hidden River Pathway Project Substantially Completed Ahead of Schedule

The following press release was sent to the Bloomingtonian Friday:

GIF courtesy of City of Bloomington


October 21, 2022

For more information, please contact:

Holly McLauchlin, Communications Manager, Utilities

[email protected] or 812-349-3940

Andrew Krebbs, Communications Director, Office of the Mayor

[email protected] or 812-349-3406 

Hidden River Pathway Project Substantially Completed Ahead of Schedule

Bloomington, Ind.– Four months ahead of schedule and on budget, the Hidden River Pathway Project is substantially complete. A reconstruction project of the downtown stormwater infrastructure from 2nd & Washington upstream/northeast to 4th & Grant launched by the City of Bloomington Utilities (CBU) in February 2021 was contracted with Milestone Contractors, LLP. 

Milestone reconstructed the culvert (see red line on map below) that carries stormwater from Dunn Meadow on IU’s campus under downtown until it reappears as Clear Creek at 1st & Walnut. In addition to these stormwater improvements, sanitary sewer and water main infrastructure was simultaneously completed to support Bloomington’s vibrant downtown. The construction cost was just over $13,000,000, with funding from the 2019 stormwater fee adjustment for all CBU customers. 

This ambitious project involved 1,875 feet of tunnel, 4,000 yards of concrete, 30,000 tons of aggregate, and 754,000 pounds of reinforcing material. This impressive amount of material was installed safely and efficiently and will route the hidden river through the downtown area and leave us better prepared for extreme weather events. 

“We are actively working toward a more sustainable and resilient future. With increasing extreme weather events, improving our capacity to handle stormwater in downtown Bloomington is critical,” said Mayor John Hamilton. “This is a community investment that improves the quality of life of everyone in the community and we thank the sewer customers for funding this vital investment. We are also grateful to CBU for managing this project and keeping it on budget and ahead of schedule, allowing our local businesses to return to welcoming the normal flow of visitors.” 

CBU has already repaired much of the stormwater infrastructure under downtown Bloomington over the past 22 years (see blue lines on the map below). This phase of the reconstruction was essential to help limit flooding and potential structural failures, such as the culvert underneath the intersection at 3rd & Lincoln, which required an emergency repair in 2017. Downtown Bloomington has experienced increased flooding–a result of increased impervious surface area and the intensified rain events associated with climate change. The new culverts have twice the capacity of those they replaced and incorporate best practices in the stormwater industry. 

This project was completed without a single safety incident. The crew did an exemplary job of protecting themselves, their coworkers, and pedestrians. 

“I am proud of our team’s efforts and so glad that this project is wrapping up, but I am especially impressed with the safety record of our contractor, Milestone,” said CBU Director Vic Kelson. “Safety is always our first priority at CBU, and to work heavy construction for over a year without so much as a bandaid is extraordinary.” 

CBU and Milestone would like to thank all the businesses, emergency responders, schools, and transportation providers that helped make this project flow smoothly. CBU is meeting now with engineers and IU to plan for the next project: the inlet under Indiana Avenue that funnels the Campus River into the rest of the stormwater system (see one of the yellow lines on the map below).  

Map of downtown Bloomington with roads highlighted under three categories. They are stormwater tunnels reconstructed, current proejct, and future projects
A photo slideshow of the construction process of Hidden River Pathway Project.

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