In recent months, groups of citizens supporting multi-modal transportation have been collaborating with Lafayette Consolidated Government (LCG). This week, LCG issued the following information to inform the public about progress related to bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure in Lafayette.
“These days, we are hearing a lot about how people want bike trails and walking paths in Lafayette. We have heard it in the Comprehensive Planning process, and we hear it in other forums as well. While it is going to be a long road to get there, we want the public to know that it has not gone unnoticed and that there is great progress being made,” said City-Parish President Joey Durel.
During the first week of December 2012, 63 trees donated by the Apache Corporation were planted along the Atakapa-Ishak (AI) multi-purpose trail.
This was the second tree planting along the trail and included the installation of 50 Native Fringe Trees (Chionanthus virginicus) and 13 Sweet Bay Magnolias. The first planting, which included 49 Native Fringe Trees, was in November 2011. The trees were planted to enhance the streetscape along the AI Trail route and also to serve as a natural wayfinding for trail users during the spring bloom.
The AI Trail is a multi-phased, shared-use recreational trail named for the Atakapa-Ishak Native American Tribe who inhabited Southeast Texas and Southwest Louisiana coastal regions and prairies. Phase 1 of the AI Trail runs from Parc Sans Souci in downtown Lafayette to Beaver Park; Phase 1 was funded by a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Recreational Trails Grant and was completed in February 2012.
In September 2012, LCG also received a 2011 FHWA Recreational Trails Grant to fund Phase 2 of the AI Trail which will continue through Beaver Park, underneath the US Hwy 90 bridge at the river and continue past Vermilionville on Fisher Road to the Jean Lafitte Acadiana Cultural Center. The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) has partnered with LCG on the project to construct the section of trail under US Hwy 90. LCG will connect that section with Fisher Road and beyond to Jean Lafitte. Funding for Phase 2 was recently appropriated by the Lafayette City-Parish Council and construction should commence in spring 2013.
In June 2012, LCG, in cooperation with University of Louisiana at Lafayette (ULL), received a $507,000 Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Bus and Bus Facilities Livability Initiative Grant to fund an extension to the existing ULL University Commons multi-use path. The current University Commons path was funded by a $1 million Federal Transportation Enhancement Grant and was opened in the fall of 2011, and the current path terminates in front of the Ira Nelson Horticulture Center. The proposed extension to the University Commons path will continue the path from the Horticulture Center to E. Lewis Street by way of St. Michael and St. Julien Streets, through Youth Park and across St. John Coulee. The project will also include Shared Roadway signage and pavement markings along Reinhardt Drive. This connection will provide a safe and convenient link between the main UL campus and the University Commons. Construction on the UL Bikeway Extension is expected to commence spring 2014.
In November 2012, LCG was awarded a 2012 FHWA Recreational Trails Grant to fund three distinct, yet connected urban bicycle trails through the downtown area. One trail will link the existing UL University Commons Multi-Use Path with Phase 1 of the AI Trail via Souvenir Gate and will terminate at the existing Parc Sans Souci trailhead. A second trail will run from Parc Sans Souci to Pontiac Point, and a third trail will run along Orange Street from Pontiac Point to Heymann Park. Once completed, it is anticipated that these three trails will provide roughly 6 new miles of facilities to Lafayette’s cycling infrastructure network.
Designated Bike/Pedestrian Ways
In summer 2012, LCG installed a bike lane on Digby Avenue between Verot School Road and Comeaux High School on W. Bluebird Drive. Pedestrian improvements were also installed as part of the project.
The Lafayette Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) continually reviews the Lafayette Region 2035 Bikeway Plan for improvements. The MPO is currently working with the Joint MPO Bicycle Subcommittee, comprised of local government representatives and cycling advocates, to draft the 2040 Bikeway Plan.