During the summer, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette began construction on Hebrard Boulevard, wherethrough traffic is no longer allowed on East St. Mary Boulevard or East University Avenue.
The university sent an email to students on Friday, Aug. 14 informing them of the construction and encouraging students and faculty to avoid the area. The email also said, “For those who must access it, there will be turn lanes available at each end of the street.”
However, Bill Crist, the director of facility management at UL Lafayette, said the idea for this project came about in around 2013 or 2014, when the university wrote a master plan of projects to be done.
“The intention of the project is to, basically, improve the pedestrian cross flow from Moody Hall, Bittle Hall and the quad area across Hebrard Boulevard to the Student Union,” Scott Hebert, the manager of facility planning, said.
Hebert said, before the project began, the roadway was incredibly narrow, there was parallel parking all the way down, and it was deemed unsafe for pedestrians.
“You really had to be familiar with the intersection to know that there was a stop sign right there,” Hebert said.
They said that because the road was a city street, they had to go through a different inspection process where they ran into several problems, including a water line that feeds from Hebrard Boulevard, Johnston Street, East St. Mary Boulevard and East University Avenue.
This, including some other unforeseen issues, caused a delay in the construction, forcing the project to be split into two phases.
Hebert said they tried to do a lot of the work during the summer; however, another issue they ran into was workers testing positive for COVID-19.
With the help of other contractors, Hebert said entire teams would have to be quarantined if one of the members contracted the virus or was around someone with COVID-19.
Crist said another project they were working on during the summer in Fletcher Hall had a similar issue with workers contracting COVID-19, which delayed classrooms in certain areas being open on the first day of the fall semester.
“We’re coordinating with the department and the building. We’re working through it to try to make it as smooth a transition as we can until we’re fully open,” Crist said.
Crist and Hebert made clear that, while this project is taking longer than expected, the intention of it is to make the crosswalk safer, modify the bike racks, and widen the sidewalks.
While the first phase is estimated to be done at the end of September, the second phase is projected to be completed at the end of the fall semester.