Downtown Louisville two-way street project gets boost in proposed highway plan
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The era of one-way streets in downtown Louisville may be coming to an end.
As part of his two-year highway plan, Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear has proposed spending $3.1 million to begin converting 10 streets to handle traffic in two directions as early as this year.
Besides the names of the roads, details were not included in the proposal that was released Wednesday and sets priorities for the next six years. The plan is typically modified during the Kentucky General Assembly.
Harold Adams, spokesman for Louisville Metro Public Works, said the governor's plan would fund the slate of two-way street projects approved last summer by the Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency, which recommends Louisville-area road work for federal funding.
The two-way street project did not appear as a line item in the previous highway plan approved in 2012, but the funds have been available for several years, said Larry Chaney, KIPDA's transportation director.
Under the KIPDA plan, the proposed two-way streets are:
Main Street, from 4th Street to Story Avenue
Jefferson, from Floyd Street to Baxter Avenue
Liberty Street, from Jackson Street to Baxter
Muhammad Ali Boulevard, from Jackson to the Chestnut Street connector
Chestnut Street, from Jackson to the Chestnut connector
3rd Street, from Market to Main
7th Street, from Oak Street to Main
8th Street, from Kentucky Street to Main
Shelby Street, from Ormsby Street to Main
Campbell Street, from Jackson to Baxter
Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer's staff was reviewing the highway plan, Fischer spokesman Chris Poynter said. He declined to comment in detail about the two-way street proposal.
"We might know more in a couple of days," he said.
The Downtown Development Corp. – now part of the Louisville Downtown Partnership – funded a 2009 study of possible traffic impacts from converting a network of one-way streets in an area bounded by Baxter Avenue to the east, Oak Street to the south, 9th Street to the west and the Ohio River to the north.
"The benefits of two-way streets are numerous," the report concluded. "They tend to have slower travel speeds than one-way streets, they reduce confusion for motorists unfamiliar with the area, they provide better access to both businesses and residential areas, and in some circumstances they can reduce the traffic load on other one-way streets."
At the same time, two-way streets have "numerous disadvantages," such as a loss of on-street parking and additional "conflict points" between pedestrians and vehicles, the report found.
Rebecca Matheny, interim executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership, said she was "thrilled" that Beshear included the two-way street plan into his spending proposal.
But she said she's concerned about the timing of the project coinciding with construction of a new downtown bridge. In addition, she noted that the Move Louisville initiative also is gathering input on local transportation priorities – and that process should ultimately help decide which streets should be two-way.
Former Louisville Mayor Jerry Abramson's administration proposed an overhaul of the one-way streets network in 2010, including making Main Street a two-way route between Fourth Street east to Story Avenue, but many of those failed to materialize.
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