Lafayette Development and Planning Department completes first phase of the University Ave. Corridor Project.

Photo by: Brooklyn Fields-Meaux
Possible revisions to Alcide Dominique Drive and three roundabouts along North University Avenue

Brooklyn Fields-Meaux

The redevelopment of the University Avenue corridor is perhaps one step closer to completion, as the plan for improving traffic flow, adding sidewalks and rezoning part of the area has moved past initial studies into planning for construction.

Throughout this initial “phase zero,” the department sifted through underlying data to see how these revisions may impact, businesses and residences of the corridor, said Neil LeBouef, a planner with the Lafayette Development and Planning.

“We really don’t want to damage the fabric of a neighborhood,” he said.

LeBouef said because University Avenue is a state roadway, Development and Planning must follow the regulations and phases of Louisiana Department of the Transportation’s and Development, which focuses on the safety of pedestrians by improving traffic flow and adding more sidewalks and includes some rezoning to accommodate residences located throughout the corridor.

“There are some incompatibilities when you have certain types of businesses, particularly industrial businesses, budding on residential property,” LeBouef said. “What rezoning tries to address is certain spaces, setbacks and barriers and to not have the commercial sections as intrusive on the neighborhoods.”

The planning document for the project was submitted Aug. 15, 2019 and gave details on where the revisions will take place. The document stated the revision boundaries as North University Avenue from north of I-10 at Renaud Drive to just south of Four Corners, or the intersection of Cameron and Jeanne Streets.

The funding for the project was granted by Lafayette’s metropolitan planning organization, the Acadiana Planning Commission.

“They are allotted dollars to make improvements on local road systems,” LeBouef said.

Acadiana Planning Commission arranges project funds where 80% of the cost of that project can be paid with the commission’s Urban Systems funds and 20% is required from the local entity, which in this case is Lafayette Consolidated Government.

Planning manager Cathie Gilbert said the department has applied for a B.U.I.L.D. grant with the Trump Administration. The application requested $12 million to cover the estimated $32 to $35 million project, according to LeBouef.

This project was a part of Lafayette Mayor President Joel Robideaux’s campaign promises. Being that he views the roadway as one of Lafayette’s gateways, he made plans to revitalize it.

“He felt that it was a corridor that went through a part of the community that has disinvestment over time,” Gilbert said.

LeBouef said another project in the planning stages includes landscaping and sidewalk construction along with pedestrian lighting on the intersection of Cameron and University Avenue. LeBouef said this project is fully funded and construction should take place sometime next year.

Development and Planning is now moving toward formulating engineering drawings necessary in reconstruction of the corridor, Gilbert said. The department is currently working on phase one with the initial engineering drawings, which Gilbert said will be revealed to the public soon.

Interview with Neil LeBouef
By: Brooklyn Fields-Meaux

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