Report on the east-side bypass meeting

by:  Diane Benjamin

The only clear supporter of the project was County Board Chairman Matt Sorensen.  Matt is an eternal optimist who believes Bloomington-Normal will continue to grow rapidly.  One crowd member pointed out that growth requires jobs and the major area employers aren’t hiring or bringing people in from other states.  The opposite is closer to the truth.

One interesting point made at the meeting:  The new subdivisions along Towanda-Barnes road, especially to the east, were allowed because Bloomington annexed the property.  Developers wanted to build, some went to the County first and were rejected, so they went to the City and got the annex.  Bloomington and Normal are by law allowed to annex out 1.5 miles (I think that was the number) without County permission.  Of course, nobody told the lot buyers about the proposed 4 lane divided highway planned for their land.

It appears the project can only be stopped if the area doesn’t grow.  The sad part is the County Board could have killed the project in June of 2010 by not taking $10.5 million in federal funds for a study.  See June 15, 2010, beginning around page 70.

If they had listened to member George Wendt, the project would have been dead then.  George said: “I would like to make a comment that it is time to tell the State and Federal Government we really need to watch and quit spending money that we don’t have and quit borrowing money to spend currently and putting it on the backs of our kids.  I will be voting no on these studies.”

These members voted YES:

Bostic, Caisely, Cavallini, Gordon, Hoselton, Nuckolls, O’Conner, Owens, Rankin, Soeldner, and Ahart.  This is the list of who to blame.  These 11 voted to spend the free money, 8 voted no.  All of the names in BOLD are still on the board and still spending your money.

So why can’t the project be stopped?  By using State and Federal money for the studies, planning control basically transferred to them.  They will be the ones to decide if the project goes forward.  It was repeated numerous times at the meeting that the project will only be built if it is justified by growth.

Good thing State Farm is transferring people out.  That is the only way the east side will be saved.





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