News From Terre Haute, Indiana

November 25, 2013

City planning study on downtown accessibility

Biking, parking, walking covered

Arthur Foulkes
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — With an eye to present and future needs, the City of Terre Haute is planning a comprehensive look at how well people can park, walk and bike downtown.

The Board of Public Works and Safety on Monday approved a contract with Hannum, Wagle and Cline Engineering, a Terre Haute firm, to conduct a parking and pedestrian study for downtown, Mayor Duke Bennett said when contacted Monday evening.

The study, with a price tag not to exceed about $45,000, will, among other things, include an inventory of existing downtown parking, Bennett said. HWC Engineering, while conducting the study, will seek input from Indiana State University, downtown business owners and Downtown Terre Haute Inc., the mayor said.

“This will just give us a snapshot of where we are and what we need over the next 20 years,” Bennett said.

It has been several years since the city has commissioned a study of its downtown parking situation, the mayor said.

Todd Nation, a member of the city council who represents much of the downtown and is a member of Downtown Terre Haute Inc., said he welcomes the study and hopes it will provide momentum to move forward with plans for improving bicycle travel downtown.

Presently, downtown bicycle paths are limited to the trail along the northern edge of the ISU campus and along Fourth Street to Hulman Street. Plans already exist to improve bike traffic downtown, Nation noted.

“It’s something that we need to do,” Nation said of the parking study, which also will consider how the downtown is to absorb more than 200 new residents if ISU opens planned new student housing on Wabash Avenue between Fifth and Sixth streets. Student impact on the downtown has already increased recently with the use of the former federal building as the new ISU Scott College of Business, he said.

The State Budget Committee, a body made up of state lawmakers, is widely expected to soon take action on the ISU housing project, which would, if approved by the state, also include commercial rental space on the ground floor of the proposed building.

• The Board of Works, a five-member body appointed by the mayor, also approved a lease with Pioneer Oil for royalties for an oil drilling operation planned for the city’s north side. The 12-percent royalties would be paid to the city for any oil developed and sold from beneath city-owned property in an area north of Fort Harrison Road east of 25th Street.

• The board also heard of a city plan to install new, custom-designed bicycle racks downtown. The racks could be designed to complement nearby businesses, which would sponsor the racks, officials said.

Some existing bicycle racks downtown are out of compliance with Americans with Disabilities Act standards, Bennett said. When bicycle are locked to the racks, the bikes obstruct more of the sidewalk than is allowed under the ADA, he said.

Reporter Arthur Foulkes can be reached at 812-231-4232 or arthur.foulkes@