Traffic and Construction Big Concerns At State Street Public Hearing

Feb 11, 2016

Credit The State Street Project / http://statestreetwl.com/

With the broad strokes of West Lafayette and Purdue University’s State Street Project settled, residents Thursday night delved into the nitty-gritty details of the Plenary Roads plan for the project.

Each of the approximately one-dozen speakers at a public hearing was largely complimentary of the plan.

However, one of the few areas of disagreement was the plan’s suggestion to convert many one-way roads into two-way streets.

Purdue Fire Chief Kevin Ply, though, calls the measure a win for public safety.

“The one-way streets as they are now limit our access to some of the buildings, they limit our response routes to some of the buildings,” he says.

Other residents such Jon Fricker thinks the conversion of some roads would cause congestion.

We will have a thoroughfare that is less pedestrian-friendly, less transit-friendly and even less friendly for the motorists,” he says, calling specifically to keep University and Russell Streets unchanged.

Fricker also expressed worry that a revamp of State Street could potentially create a larger rift between the northern and southern parts of the Purdue campus, "taking a psychological barrier and making it into a physical barrier," especially if median dividers such as those on Northwestern Avenue are put in.

Many business owners along State Street and in Chauncey Village, such as Scott Dudley, wanted assurances construction wouldn’t slam their bottom line.

Dudley, who owns a dry cleaning shop, says he remembers the heavy construction on State Street three decades ago.

“It just about annihilated a lot of our businesses down there,” he says, “and I’m just afraid of it being even worse today.”

Several bicycle advocates voiced their support for the project’s many new bike and pedestrian lanes. One overarching concern, however, was where those bike paths would eventually lead.

Resident Tim Delworth says he logged almost 1,200 miles commuting on his bike last year.

“I’m not sure…what’s going to happen from Airport Road to 231,” he says. “If we’re going to extend those bike paths or extend walking paths, and make a safer corridor for people.”

Armed with the comments, the Joint Board will decide whether to officially approve the project.

Joint Board Chariman Ken Sandel says only about a third of the project’s design process is set in stone, and even if the board approves the plan, certain changes could be made as long as they don’t change the cost of the project too much.