A half-mile passageway for pedestrians and bikers along Garfield Street in the downtown Lafayette neighborhood of Freetown could be completed as soon as early 2016.
Construction for the Garfield Greenway could start in midfall, if all goes accordingly, said Dana Brown, a landscape consultant working on the project.
The Garfield Greenway was recently budgeted $115,000 for its first phase of construction by Lafayette Consolidated Government.
The idea behind the first phase is to create bike lanes, to add additional landscaping and to improve storm drainage in the area. The second phase of the plans includes making a park along the train tracks near East Taft Street and East Vermilion Street.
Brown on July 16 shared with interested community members at the Rosa Parks Transportation Center the three proposed options for the first phase of the passageway that would fit the budget .
“The big question is, do we make a big impact in a small part of the greenway or do we do something that’s complete but not as much of an impact?” Brown asked the attending community members.
Community members showed support for an option that took advantage of the existing roads and would have a multiuse lane for bikes and pedestrians separate but adjacent to vehicular traffic lanes.
To accommodate the multiuse lane, the vehicle traffic lanes would be made narrower, which Brown said would encourage people to drive slower and therefore be safer for pedestrians and bikers. Instead of a divider between the pedestrian/bike lane and vehicular traffic lanes, the pedestrian/bike lane would be striped or painted a solid color to differentiate it from the main road.
Out of the three options presented, this option proved to cover the longest span — 2,200 feet — and would be the most functional. Two other options covered 200 feet or 900 feet.
The options were based on an initial design community meeting held in March.
The next steps for the project in the coming months are to revise the community’s master plan, to develop the official design for the first phase and to get approval of construction documents before the bidding process for construction begins. There is no timeline in place for when phase two of the Garfield Greenway could begin development.
A portion of the half-mile Garfield Greenway is being used as a community garden after funds were raised last year. Thirty-five trees were planted by Trees Acadiana in the Garfield Greenway in 2011 in an effort to encourage beautification of the space. The half-mile space originally was noted in 2006 as a possible linear park in the approved neighborhood plan for Freetown-Port Coterie.