Crashes decrease on Dixie Hwy. at Watterson after improvements

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – It is one of Louisville's busiest and most dangerous roadways, but the effort to tame Dixie Highway is already seeing results.

Metro Councilman Rick Blackwell said Thursday accidents have been sharply reduced since crews rebuilt the ramp from the Watterson Expressway westbound to Dixie Highway.

“It's already cut traffic accidents by 80 percent in that area,” Blackwell said.

Now, the $35 million Dixie Highway project has moved to the next major phase: reconstruction of the intersection of Dixie Highway and Rockford Lane.

Tony Osting, who opened Heitzman bakery at Dixie Highway and Rockford Lane nine years ago, said the road certainly has earned its nickname, “Dixie Die-way.”

“It’s very dangerous,” Osting said, adding that it's especially so for pedestrians. “The bank is right across the street, but we always drive. We never go on foot.”

Osting said he and his employees always bake in extra time to get to and from work.

“It's a tough place to travel ... a lot of traffic," he said. "It's hard to get in an out."

So Osting is glad the New Dixie Project has reached his area. Crews have begun widening the turn lane from Rockford Lane to Dixie Highway, which is a constant source of backups.

“A lot of traffic comes off the Watterson, and once it gets down to Rockford Lane, it kind of just stops,” Osting said.

Crews are also widening the sidewalks and installing smart traffic lights that can adjust to the flow of the 60,000 vehicles on Dixie Highway every day.

“In terms of what it's worth, it's really going to be huge for us,” Blackwell said.

It's huge for safety, he said, and for the economy.

“A nicer-looking Dixie, a safer Dixie, will hopefully be better for people investing in Dixie,” Blackwell said.

But in the meantime, there is the construction.

“Be patient. Be patient. Be patient,” Blackwell said.

For the sake of his bakery, all the work could be a pain for Osting.

“We wish it would go quicker but, you know, no pain, no gain,” he said.

But in the long term, he said the project should be sweet for business.

“It's long overdue," Osting said. "Dixie Highway has been noted for a lot of problems over the years. This should solve a lot of it.”

The new Dixie Highway is to be finished late next year.

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