City wants to make improvements to 4th Street near Churchill - WDRB 41 Louisville News

City wants to make improvements to 4th Street near Churchill Downs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky.(WDRB) -- It is near the most famous racetrack in the world -- but a main road nearby needs some fixing. Improvements are planned for Fourth Street near Churchill Downs.

"We have got to start addressing the aesthetics of the city in which we live," says Jackie Green.  He has operated a bicycle shop on Fourth Street near the Downs for five years.

He says its a challenge doing business in the area but he hopes better times are ahead.  Right now there are too many vacant storefronts and houses, and many of the sidewalks are crumbling.

There are also overgrown weeds and grass along the sidewalks -- another unsightly problem along this section of Fourth Street.  "This is too critical a corridor not to improve it," says Green. "We've got Churchill Downs on the south side and U of L to the north."

The city is working on a plan to improve the area.

"Just in general the area is a little more downtrodden than we would like it to be," says Theresa Zawacki, of the city's Department of Economic and Innovation, "as the gateway to Churchill Downs and to the Park Hill neighborhood."

The plan has a number of proposals, as explained by Zawacki.  "We are looking at solutions that bring better pedestrian amenities, things like benches, trees, planters to the area," she explains, "but in the long term we will be looking at dedicated bike lanes."

The city also wants to re-direct truck traffic by building a traffic circle at Industry Road. It hopes that improvements like that will help to eventually fill the empty buildings with new businesses.

"You've got a lot of closed down shops, a lot of boarded up homes, and trying to come in and make infrastructure improvements may attract those who want to come in and invest money here," says Michael Sewell, project manager from the design firm of Gresham, Smith and Partners.

Sewell says since money is tight and funds will be needed from the state and federal governments as well as the city improvements will have to be carried out in phases.

A final plan is expected for public discuss at the end of September.

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