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I69 and Wapehani

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Just read through the I69 Corridor 5 plan and wanted to put this out there.  You can access the doc here:  http://www.i69indyevn.org//wp-content/uploads/DEIS_Sec5/VolumeI/S5_Chapter5-3.pdf.
The impact of I69 to the park appears to be limited in most scenarios, but there is one scenario (alternative 7) where the bridge and a lot of trail on the west side of the park next to SR 37 would be taken over.  It's <2 acres of land, but has the potential to impact much more than that.
I'm curious what others who may be more familiar with the planning think (Kevin?), but this scenario concerns me.  That piece of trail is an important segment for connecting the N and S areas of the park and it enables a large loop around perimeter of the park, so it's pretty important to have a workable solution.  The character of the park in that area may be impacted quite a bit.  I'm picturing popping out of the woods and riding for 100 yards next to a chain link fence with cars roaring past on the other side.  Also, even with the lake drained, the lake bed area would still be low-lying wetland and required a fairly extensive elevated platform to re-route a trail across it.  Maybe not a big deal, but the feasibility would need to be assessed.   
So, hopefully they don't go with Alt 7 but if things start moving that way, it appears that there will be another opportunity for users to comment publically.  Also, it says that the decision would need align with plans to drain the lake.  In any case, I'm planning to stay tuned.

Kevin M:
For anyone looking to catch up on I-69 developments, this recent article in the Herald Times Online provides some context for Matt's concerns.

The basic context is that the FHA and INDOT recently released their draft environmental impact statement for Section 5 of I-69.  As Matt explains, in some scenarios, upgrading Hwy 37 to interstate standards would impact Wapehani.  The specific impacts would certainly include a need to reconnect the north and south side along the western edge of the park (if not with a new bridge and boardwalk then with a causeway).

If Wapehani is impacted, the city will be compensated.  One would imagine that trail restoration and environmental restoration would figure into that compensation.  I don't know what that would look like at ground level.

One possibility is a noise barrier along the western edge of the park.  Here's a snip from the HTO article linked above:

--- Quote ---Decisions regarding noise barriers have not been made.
Three areas along the preferred alternative route meet “feasibility and reasonableness” criteria: along southbound lanes between Fullerton Pike and Tapp Road, along northbound lanes between Tapp Road and Ind. 45, and along northbound lanes between Ind. 45 and Ind. 48.
Decisions on whether the noise barriers will be included will be made based on input received during the comment period. Public comment on noise abatement and other impacts of Section 5 will be accepted through Jan. 2, 2013.

--- End quote ---

I believe INDOT is accepting public comment online; there will also be a public hearing on Section 5 at the county fairgrounds on Dec. 6 in the evening.
While your concerns are best directed at the FHA and INDOT via their established channels for public input, locally you might contact both the Parks department and the Metropolitan Planning Organization to share your concerns or pose questions about the impact of I-69 on Wapehani.

Thanks for the info Kevin.  I contacted INDOT and found the instructions for submitting online comments.  Pasted below along with the comments I submitted.  I would encourage anyone who has similiar concerns about the impact of the highway on the park to submit their comments online, or if possible, to attend the meeting on Dec 6.  Feel free to steal from my comment below if it helps.
Instructions for online comments:  http://www.i69indyevn.org , select the Section 5 DEIS towards the bottom of the page, this will direct you to the Section 5 DEIS page where there is an on-line public comment link where you may post a comment for inclusion into the official public record / project record for the DEIS.  All substantive comments will be reviewed, evaluated and given full consideration as part of the decision making process.
My comment: 
This comment regards the impact of Section 5, Alternative 7 to the City of Bloomington’s Wapehani Park.   I believe that Alternative 7 would have a significant negative impact on the park far beyond the less than 2 acres actually taken over by the highway infrastructure.
The area impacted contains a length of trail on a narrow stretch of land that runs along the bank of the current lake on the west side of the park.  This piece of trail is important segment for connecting the north and south areas of the park and enables a continuous loop around perimeter of the park.  It's important to have a workable solution to retain the loop, and one that does not interrupt the natural, wooded character of the trail.  My concerns with Alt 7 are the following: 
1) That the imposing highway infrastructure would negatively impact the character of the park.  For example, the park user could see a large retaining wall, or see and hear traffic on the highway or an access road.  For such a small trail system, this would be a major disruption on a key section of trail. 
2) That the trail would need to be re-routed to the area beyond of the woods where it currently runs and across the (planned to be) dry lakebed.  This would also change the nature of the trail from one going through the woods, to one going through a large open area.
3)  That routing the trail across the lakebed would cause additional problems since that the lakebed will be a low-lying wetland area.  Routing the trail across the lakebed would likely require an elevated platform which would disrupt the character further, and require significant effort to build and maintain.
Please consider another alternative that will not impact this important city park.

Kevin M:
Thanks for sharing this, Matt.  It's very thorough (and "substantive"!) and shows both that you've done your homework and that you know the park well.  I agree that any takings from the park along the highway will disrupt the trail system in ways that abstract measurements do not fully capture.

I think that anyone who values Wapehani would do well to follow your example and participate in the public input process.

I'll try to make it on the public forum.  The graphic I have from the newspaper is alternative 8.  I thought that was the final decided upon route.  In studying that, they have an access road between Tapp Rd and Bloomfield Pike, but both are interchanges.  Why an access road between two interchanges.  That's stupid and a waste of money to build an access road, and most important would affect Wapahani.


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