It's Really Happening: West Lafayette Urges Drivers To Prepare For State Street Closure

Mar 20, 2017

A rendering of the future Chauncey Hill.
Credit statestreetwl.com / http://statestreetwl.com/project-gallery/zouqmpnzi33znymgtbuq2vuo0y7qol

Two weeks away from shutting down Purdue University’s main arterial road, West Lafayette leaders are urging drivers to plan different commutes around the State Street Redevelopment Project’s upcoming construction.

April 1st marks the start of the project’s most disruptive phase. Though city leaders had previously highlighted the road’s closure through the entire campus this summer, the city will shut down State Street on the west half of Purdue’s campus April first and leave it closed through November, with other portions of State Street also barricaded during the summer and fall.

The city is urging drivers to stay away from campus unless necessary, and for Purdue commuters to use U.S. 231, Harrison Street and Martin Jischke Drive to get to school.

Purdue Physical Facilities Director Don Petersen says the real heavy lifting will get underway once students leave for the summer, in May. That’s when State Street will be entirely shut down from Salisbury Street through Airport Road.

Construction crews will significantly widen the thoroughfare, making way for two-way traffic, bike lanes and pedestrian walkways and sitting areas. Crews will also convert many of the arterial roads from one-way to two-way streets.

Construction Company Rieth-Riley will have close to 90 day to pull that middle phase off, says Petersen, and they’re planning down to the minute.

Still, he says he thinks the city can pull it off.

“It is a very tight schedule, but they’ve signed up to it and that is the work that will happen,” he says, noting the company made the decision to work on the State Street portion first, saving the outer bypass system’s updates for 2018. That construction will focus on making over McCormick Road and Stadium Avenue.

Even though the project is likely to cause headaches for Purdue faculty, staff and students, Petersen says there was no way it could get done without completely shutting down the street.

“It’s just a lot of construction to happen,” he says. “You can’t have open ditches and 9,000 feet of pipe go in while the road is open and while you’re letting pedestrians walk through there. It’s just a big infrastructure below the surface that has to happen in addition to all the improvements you see above the ground.”

Two informational meetings will be held Thursday—the first at noon in Purdue’s Stewart Center and the second at 5:30 at the West Lafayette Public Library—to educate drivers about traffic plans during the upcoming construction.

Officials are also hoping residents will visit StateStreetWL.com for weekly and daily construction updates throughout the project.