State Street revitalization would create a campus 'Main Street,' planners say

January 22, 2014  


State Street

Purdue, the Purdue Research Foundation and the City of West Lafayette are working on a plan to revitalize State Street into a corridor that serves as the heart of the West Lafayette campus. The process includes public meetings to solicit input, and the next public meetings will be held on Feb. 13. This photo shows State Street as it exists now near South University Street. (Photo provided)
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Imagine a State Street that is as inviting to pedestrians and bicyclists as it is to vehicles -- in short, imagine a corridor that serves as the heart of the West Lafayette campus.

Purdue, the Purdue Research Foundation and the City of West Lafayette are working on a plan to revitalize State Street into just that. Drastic changes to the corridor are still a long way off, but planners are seeking input from the community about how to make this dream a reality.

In the form of meetings with the public and stakeholders, the effort to reimagine State Street has been ongoing since the fall. That's when, following the completion of the U.S. 231 bypass near campus, State Street became the responsibility of West Lafayette. Previously, the Indiana Department of Transportation controlled it.

"We have this incredible opportunity to transform State Street from a congested, three- and four-lane road to a street that is inviting and comfortable for all modes of transportation," says John Collier, director of campus master planning.

"Our goal is to turn State Street into a corridor that unifies both halves of campus in a complete, attractive way. We really want State Street to be able to serve as the community's 'Main Street.'"

Along with MKSK, an Indianapolis consulting firm, Purdue and the city are looking for ways to revitalize State Street from the Wabash River to its intersection with U.S. 231, which is the bypass.

The next round of public meetings to solicit ideas about the project will take place on Feb. 13. The first meeting is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Stewart Center, Room 202. The second is scheduled for 5:30-7 p.m. in the West Lafayette Public Library, 208 W. Columbia St.

Collier says the project will likely create distinctive but unified districts along State Street to accommodate the different land uses adjacent to the corridor. This will allow for the development of an appropriately scaled road for each district while maintaining a common sense of place for the whole corridor.

So far, the groups have held two public meetings to solicit ideas about how to improve and transform State Street. About 40 attended each meeting.

MKSK is expected to submit a final report this summer. It will compile the community's suggestions and lay out potential courses of action, say Collier and Chandler Poole, West Lafayette's development director.

In addition to making State Street friendlier for bicyclists and pedestrians, some possibilities already suggested include incorporating existing green spaces, upgrading the street's signs and installing new street-side benches and furniture, Poole says.

"These are things that are inexpensive but would have an immediate impact," Poole says. "Theoretically, we could implement these kind of measures right away, if the public decides they're good ideas."

Long-term, Purdue and the city are considering implementing traffic-calming measures on State Street, which could eventually become a two-way road.

However, such measures would require the completion of the ongoing perimeter parkway project, which will create an artery for traffic flow around campus. The perimeter parkway project's timeline is up in the air because funding still needs to be found.

In addition to attending the public meetings, those interested in submitting suggestions about State Street can send them to ssmp@wl.in.gov or post them to the project's Facebook page, located here

Writer: Amanda Hamon, 49-61325, ahamon@purdue.edu

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