Press release: Progress Continues on Hawthorne/Weatherstone Neighborhood Greenway Construction

The following was sent to the Bloomingtonian this week:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

March 25, 2024

CONSTRUCTION OF THE HAWTHORNE/WEATHERSTONE NEIGHBORHOOD GREENWAY MOVES FORWARD 

Bloomington, Ind. – With input from neighbors and residents, today the City announced plans to move forward with the Hawthorne/Weatherstone Neighborhood Greenway.

The mile-long greenway will connect residents in Barclay Gardens, The Boulders, and Elm Heights neighborhoods directly to Indiana University. The modified design incorporates feedback the City received throughout the planning process as well as from city leaders and public sessions, including one held by Mayor Kerry Thomson in February.

“The Hawthorne-Weatherstone Neighborhood Greenway is a critical connection segment in our community greenways plan. Improving streets that are already used for walking and bicycling increases safety and usability for the entire city,” said Mayor Thomson. “Our plan has been improved with resident feedback and staff partnership, and we are excited for the increased connectivity this project will provide.”

Neighborhood Greenways are low-speed, low-volume, shared-space streets that support high comfort walking and bicycling connections. Residents may still park and drive on the Neighborhood Greenway. 

In feedback sessions, residents asked why the City is investing in safety improvements on a street that already feels safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. City planners noted that this is an intentional best practice. Past Neighborhood Greenway projects have shown an increase in the number of people walking and rolling in the project areas, as well as significantly slower motor vehicle traffic. 

Traffic calming devices such as speed cushions and bumpouts reduce the likelihood that drivers will speed on these streets. Safety will be improved at intersections with measures such as new crosswalk markings, digital speed warning signs, and rapid flashing beacons. Bump out curbs will improve pedestrian visibility and shorten road crossing lengths at intersections. All aspects of the project subject to ADA regulations, including existing features, were examined both by City Engineering staff and an external national engineering firm with ADA compliance expertise. New features will be in compliance, and existing features modified as necessary to bring them into compliance where feasible and appropriate. Bloomington Fire Department has also approved the plans for safety.

A number of design changes were made in response to resident feedback:

  • Traffic calming was added at the intersections with Maxwell Lane and 1st Street.
  • Bumpouts were changed to speed cushions where there is no adjacent tree plot and sidewalk. 
  • Three locations of traffic-calming infrastructure were removed on Hawthorne.
  • Two locations of traffic calming were removed on Weatherstone.
  • Wayfinding signage was added.
  • Lighting plans were adjusted.
  • The proposed trail connecting Hawthorne and Weatherstone was modified to encourage slower speeds and improved visibility.

At approximately 20% of the cost of sidewalk construction, Neighborhood Greenways provide relatively low-cost transportation improvements. This Neighborhood Greenway project was combined with multiple other initiatives in the area in order to gain project efficiencies offered by larger project bids. The awarded $873,378 bid amount includes approximately $128,000 of accessibility improvements including sidewalk repairs and new curb ramps; $27,000 for traffic calming on nearby Miller Drive as prioritized by the City’s resident-initiated traffic calming program; $197,000 for improvements at the intersection of Hillside Drive, Olive Street, and Weatherstone Lane which had a separate resident input process; $26,000 for removal and replacement of invasive Callery Pear trees; $73,000 for a new trail connecting the dead end of Hawthorne Drive to Weatherstone Lane; and more than one mile of Neighborhood Greenway improvements on both Hawthorne Drive and Weatherstone Lane.

Hawthorne/Weatherstone Neighborhood Greenway project background

Hawthorne Drive and Weatherstone Lane were identified as Bicycle Boulevard streets in the 2008 Bicycle and Pedestrian Transportation and Greenways System Plan. Bicycle Boulevards are now referred to as Neighborhood Greenways because the traffic-calming infrastructure benefits all users including pedestrians, bicyclists, scooter riders, people accessing transit, and drivers. 

In 2013, street markings and wayfinding signs were installed on the Hawthorne/Weatherstone Neighborhood Greenway, along with several other Neighborhood Greenways including 7th-Longview, Allen-Covenanter, and Clifton-Union.   

Since 2013, transportation research and best practices have continued to evolve. Research shows that signs and painted street markings are largely ineffective at impacting driver speeds and safety. Instead, physical changes to a street such as speed cushions, bumpouts, or narrow lanes work effectively to reduce driver speeds and thereby improve safety for all street users. In light of safety research and in service to the goals identified in the community’s adopted Comprehensive Plan, a new Transportation Plan was developed throughout 2018 and adopted in 2019. 

Through the development and adoption of the Transportation Plan, a Priority Bicycle Facilities Network was established, which identified the Hawthorne/Weatherstone Neighborhood Greenway as a priority project. The Priority Bicycle Facilities Network focuses on forming an interconnected network of east-west and north-south bicycle corridors in order to “achieve the biggest impact within a short timeframe to advance multimodal transportation in the City.”       

To design and install Neighborhood Greenways, the City follows the Staff-led Traffic Calming and Neighborhood Greenways process. More information about the Neighborhood Greenways process can be found at this link

The following is the timeline for the Hawthorne/Weatherstone Neighborhood Greenway. For more information, please visit the Hawthorne/Weatherstone Neighborhood Greenway project page

  • March 22, 2022: first public meeting to present project scope and seek feedback; at the first public meeting, the purpose is to hear from residents before developing a design. Staff heard concerns from residents about several intersections, drainage, and bumpouts. The concerns raised by residents informed the project design.  
  • October 24, 2022: second public meeting to present preliminary design and request feedback. Staff received design feedback at the meeting and through an online comment form. Before the third meeting, many changes were made to the design (noted above) based on the feedback received. 
  • December 8, 2022: third public meeting to present revised design and receive feedback. 
  • May 31 – June 30, 2023: open comment period. 
  • August 14, 2023: presented to the Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission with public comment. 
  • September 11, 2023: Bicycle and Pedestrian Safety Commission voted 7-0 to approve the design of the greenway. 
  • November 28, 2023: The project was advertised for construction bidding.
  • December 19, 2023: The Board of Public Works awarded a construction contract to E&B Paving.  
  • February 17, 2024: Mayor Thomson held listening session on planning process.

The neighborhood greenway progress was paused from mid-December 2022 to mid-May 2023, while the Common Council considered changing the Traffic Calming and Greenways Program. Council ultimately decided to maintain the program as-is, and progress on the Hawthorne/Weatherstone Greenway resumed. 

Additionally, two other transportation improvement projects will be constructed under the same contract: resident-requested traffic calming on Miller Drive and improvements at the intersection of Hillside Drive and Olive Street/Weatherstone Lane. Both of these projects followed the Traffic Calming and Greenways Program processes. For more information on these projects, visit the Engineering Projects Page.  

For more information about traffic calming and neighborhood greenways and to sign up for updates about Neighborhood Greenway projects around the community, visit the Traffic Calming and Greenways Program.  

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