New bike lanes to be ready by spring semester
LAFAYETTE — A project to replace two of the four vehicle lanes on St. Mary Boulevard with bike lanes through the heart of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s main campus is scheduled to begin during the school’s holiday break and should be completed before students arrive for the spring semester.
The new bike lanes on St. Mary Boulevard will extend from the intersection of St. Landry Street to the intersection of Taft Street on the other side of campus.
In the place of two of the existing four lanes on St. Mary Boulevard through campus, cyclists will be given a 6-foot lane on each side of the road, with a 3-foot buffer to keep them safe from traffic.
The project is a part of UL Lafayette’s Master Plan, a comprehensive, long-term plan to guide growth on campus.
The Lafayette City-Parish Council approved the bike lane proposal in August and agreed to do the work, which involves marking the roadway to carve out the new path for bikes.
“We have plenty of time to do the striping during the (holiday) break,” City-Parish Director of Public Works Tom Carroll said.
The project is estimated to cost $70,000, and the university will reimburse the city with revenue generated from student fees.
Along with the new bike lanes, the university is planning to install more bike racks, bike shelters and lockers on campus by the spring semester.
In a separate bikeway project, the city plans to extend the University Common bike path, which was started in 2011.
The 2-mile path stretches from Eraste Landry Road through the University Research Park and the UL Lafayette athletic complex, ending on Johnston Street near the edge of the main campus.
The extension will bring the University Common bike path onto the main campus, connecting near Youth Park.
The new route will run along St. Michael and St. Julien streets and cross through Youth Park and over the St. John coulee.
“What these bike paths are for is to develop a bike and pedestrian network that connects surrounding neighborhoods and campus. It helps both of us,” said Tom Sammons, director of UL Lafayette’s School of Architecture and Design.
The safety of cyclists along Johnston Street is also a concern for the city, and the bikeway expansion project will offer a safer route to the university’s main campus, said Joey Benoit, a planner with the Lafayette Consolidated Government.
“Our bicycle crash data shows that an extension of the bike path would be beneficial,” Benoit said. “The project includes an extension of the current path, sharrows (share the road) pavement markings placed along safer neighborhood streets and a bicycle and pedestrian bridge crossing over a coulee.”
Benoit said work on the University Common bike path extension is expected to begin either late spring or in the summer.