Aug 30, 2014 1:22 PM by AP
LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) - A portion of Bertrand Drive in Lafayette one day may be a spot for leisurely strolls, bicycle rides and sidewalk cafÃ©s.
The Advocate reported the proposed city-parish budget for next year includes $700,000 for a streetscape project that would reduce a portion of the four-lane road to two or three lanes, add sidewalks and possibly include landscaping and on-street parking.
The goal is to make Bertrand between Johnston Street and College Drive a friendly corridor for foot and bike traffic and to spur business development, said Kevin Blanchard, city-parish chief development officer.
"We want it to work for the bicyclists, the walkers, the cars and the businesses in the area," he said.
The streetscape project, assuming funding comes through, is still three to four years out, but the state Department of Transportation and Development is expected to restripe the road later this year, shifting the lines to reduce the road from four to three lanes and using the reworked space for bike lanes.
"That's a good first step," Blanchard said.
The long-term plan still is being developed.
Blanchard said sidewalks are certain in the plan, but no decision has been made on whether the road would be three lanes or two.
Landscaping is being considered as well as options to address a parking shortage for some businesses along the street, he said.
The plan calls for keeping Bertrand at four lanes where it intersects with College and Johnston.
City-Parish Councilman Andy Naquin, who represents the area, said he has some questions about how much money might be needed for the streetscape project but is generally supportive of the plan.
Naquin said he envisions the area as a pathway between the University of Louisiana-Lafayette athletics complex and the Horse Farm, which sits near the intersection of Bertrand and Johnston and is being developed as a park.
Tim Metcalf, who owns Dean-O's Pizza on Bertrand, said the streetscape reworking could be a plus for businesses. He said he doesn't have problems with reducing the lanes and slowing traffic. "There is no reason someone needs to go 45 or 50 mph there," Metcalf said.
Blanchard said sidewalks, reduced lanes and slower traffic would allow residents to walk along Bertrand and "have a conversation and not feel like you are going to get run over."
The four lanes of Bertrand Drive are a relic from the time decades ago when the road was a main thoroughfare to the north before College Drive was extended.
"It's a four-lane road that carries two lanes worth of traffic," Blanchard said.
Lafayette earlier experimented with retrofitting roads to be more pedestrian and bike friendly.
A project completed earlier this year two of the four vehicle lanes with bike lane through the heart of the university campus.