WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) — One of West Lafayette's most traveled roads is about to permanently close to vehicles. Purdue University announced Wednesday a major stretch of Third Street will soon become strictly for pedestrians.
The road is the main corridor that connects the academic side of campus, to the residential side.
A reimagined Third Street will be closed to motor vehicle traffic in order to allow for the safer movement of pedestrians through a key Purdue campus corridor. (Image provided)
"About 40 to 60,000 students, I've heard, walk in front of my building every day up and down this road," said David McMillan, Assistant Director of the Bechtel Innovation Design Center.
Purdue police saw students, whether walking, riding or driving, dodging just about everyone and everything along the road.
"Right now I see skateboarders running down the double-yellow line in the middle of Third Street zipping in an out of cars," said Purdue Police Chief John Cox. "Cars are trying to maneuver and not hit pedestrians crossing in the middle of the block. I've got bicycles that don't quite know where to be."
The closure will start at University Street and stretch down to Martin Jischke Drive, about a fourth of a mile long. Cars will still be able to cross Third Street at University, Martin Jischke and Russell. Everything else, becomes a large walkway.
Cox said the preliminary designs show cul de sacs where other cross-streets end. Parking on Waldron Street will be re-aligned.
Purdue President Mitch Daniels says it's going to model something the university already has.
"I think this is going to really change the character of the campus, much as the Wilmith Center did when it opened near here," said Daniels. "I think it will change the traffic flow, you will see more people colliding, in the positive sense."
The university is working in partnership on the project with the City of West Lafayette.
"It's a blessing to have such good camaraderie with the city over projects like these," said Cox.
Purdue and the city are working on preliminary plans on what the design could look like. That includes special consideration of the University Street Garage, where many faculty members park. The garage has accesses on Waldron, University and Second streets. Cox says they are going to redesign the enterances to be functional with the looming changes.
"We need to pre-plan so we don't create something that impedes the enterance or exit to that garage and we think about what that flow looks like at eight o'clock in the morning, at noon, at 4 o'clock, at 5 o'clock."
The road will close in May after this current semester. There is no set completion date, yet. The project is expected to cost $1 million.
— Trevor Peters (@TrevorPetersTV) January 15, 2020