LAFAYETTE — The University of Louisiana at Lafayette received a federal grant of nearly $460,000 to complete the second phase of a bike path project that will decrease traffic and parking problems on its main campus and connect bike riders to major city bus routes.
The project is a collaboration between the university and the Lafayette Consolidated Government. It will be added to an existing two-mile bike path.
The path connects the university’s Research Park from Eraste Landry across Congress to Johnston Street, as well as to the city’s Atakapa-Ishtak bike trail project, said Thomas Sammons, ULL professor of architecture. Sammons is director of the university’s Community Design Workshop.
“It starts building a network that we at the university are working on and that the city’s working on,” Sammons said. “This grant was a collaboration between both of us.”
The second phase of the project could be complete by late 2013, said Bill Spivey, a planner with Lafayette Consolidated Government’s Metropolitan Planning Organization. Spivey wrote the federal grant on the university’s behalf.
The grant of $456,291 was awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration as part of its “Bus Livability” competitive grant program.
The project will not only connect students to the main campus but also provide greater access for bike riders to bus routes on Johnston Street near the campus and on Congress. The routes connect to the downtown bus station and to the Mall of Acadiana, Spivey said.
Earlier this year, the university opened a two-mile bike path that begins on Johnston Street near the university’s Ira Nelson Horticulture Center and takes riders along Cajundome Boulevard, across Congress Street through the Research Park to Eraste Landry Road.
That portion of the path, which is lit and lined by street lamps, was funded by a $1 million enhancement grant from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
The federal grant will extend the existing path, allowing riders to cross Johnston Street at St. Julien Avenue and ride a path through Youth Park and cross the coulee, looping through South Campus Drive to Lewis Street, Sammons said.
Future bike path phases will create a link to the Student Union, Girard Park, the Freetown neighborhood near downtown and the Atakapa-Ishtak bike trail on General Mouton, Sammons said.
The first phase of the Atakapa-Ishtak trail opened earlier this year and connects downtown’s Parc Sans Souci to Beaver Park. Future phases will extend the trail into St. Martin Parish.
“The end goal is to start building networks,” Sammons said. “Through our partnership with Lafayette Consolidated Government, to build a network that links the university and the surrounding neighborhoods, so it’s an alternative form of transportation.”
U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany released information about the grant award Monday and credited the university for improving access to the main campus by providing alternative routes across major transit areas.