West Lafayette is hoping to minimize the shock of closing one of the city’s most traveled streets by communicating with residents on the front end of the massive State Street overhaul.
Starting April 1st, State Street will be shut down from University Drive to Airport Road. Segments of Tapawingo Drive and Marsteller Street will also be closed.
Approximately 100 commuters dropped by a lunchtime meeting at Purdue to ask questions and make plans for the upcoming changes. One of those commuters is Beth Tucker, who works in Purdue’s Young Hall and parks in the Wood Street Garage, which will be closed starting in May. Tucker says she’s not a cyclist yet, but is thinking about starting to ride a bike to deal with the upcoming closures.
“This would be a change, but maybe a good change,” she says. “Exercise? Yeah! It might be a good change.”
CityBus says six of its 15 regular routes will need to be re-routed during the construction. But CityBus Manager Bryce Gibson says traffic tangles probably won’t translate to increased bus ridership.
That’s certainly a hope,” says Gibson, but “we’re not anticipating it. “It doesn’t normally work that way, but with the scope and scale of this project it’s certainly a possibility.”
CityBus Travel Trainer Katy Dietrich says the bus company is re-routing all its lines at once, with changes that will stay constant as long as State Street is shuttered.
“So we’re not saying, this week they’ll go this way, this week they’ll go a different way,” says Dietrich. “We’re really trying to keep our riders in mind and have the route changes last until the end of the project, in November.”
Dietrich says she thinks the increased bike lane mileage will ultimately help bus ridership, since many CityBus riders use a hybrid of bikes and public transit.
Christy Kuntz, General Manager of Wabash Landing’s Hilton Garden Inn, also sat in on the lunchtime meeting. She says Thursday was the first she had heard Tapawingo was going to be closed on both sides of State Street.
“I think that they’ve had plenty of businesses for businesses to attend,” she says. “I think that they’ve changed things several times that maybe we weren’t aware of.”
Kuntz says she thinks guests will still book at the hotel, but she anticipates they might be unhappy when they see all the construction. She’s preparing by making sure customers have driving instructions and are aware of the changes before they come.
Traffic will be further disrupted once Purdue’s Spring Semester closes in mid-May. That’s when State Street will be completely closed from Salisbury Street to the west end of campus. Construction crews will have only three months to finish the middle phase before the fall semester begins.