LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Kentucky’s two-year road plan keeps the westward extension of River Road on track, widens Interstate 71 north of the Gene Snyder Freeway and funds the conversion of one-way streets downtown to two-way traffic.
Those local projects are among the $274.9 million state lawmakers set aside Monday night for Louisville as part of a $2.7 billion transportation bill that now heads to Gov. Matt Bevin.
House Bill 202 also restores funding for long-awaited work to make East Market Street in the NuLu area safer and reduce flooding. The “streetscape” plan received $10 million after getting no money in an earlier measure the House approved.
It would fund the bulk of the $14.5 million project between First and Johnson streets that includes rain gardens and underground basins meant to keep millions of gallons of rain out of the sewer system each year.
The plan also calls for new sidewalks and lighting on both sides of Market and a separate bicycle lane that would fix an “extremely dangerous” layout that now has cyclists riding between parked cars and a driving lane, said Rick Murphy, president of the NuLu Business Association.
About $1.5 million in state funds have already been spent on engineering and design, and the remaining $3 million has been committed from the state’s share of Ohio River Bridges Project funds and through the Metropolitan Sewer District, Murphy said.
The work would take place over the next two fiscal years.
Murphy credits the project with helping bring $300 million in investment to the neighborhood in recent years. “I think without that we would not have been nearly as successful at attracting the major developments,” he said.
The road plan also devotes $11.5 million to widen River Road to four lanes over about one mile from near Pope to Zorn avenues and add bike lanes. The construction would happen during the fiscal year that starts July 1.
To the west, lawmakers approved spending $1.6 million to design, buy land and do utility work over the next two years ahead of the planned extension of River Road west of Seventh Street. That aligns with a schedule presented to the Louisville Metro Council in 2016, when it approved $390,650 in federal funds for the project.
The state action is critical for the planned rerouting of the road and “will go hand in hand” with the next proposed phase of Waterfront Park along the river to the west, Will Ford, a spokesman for the Develop Louisville planning agency, said in an email.
He said the design of the River Road extension will be unveiled later this year. The city still needs $14.7 million for construction.
Lawmakers set aside $4.7 million to convert portions of ten downtown streets that now carry traffic in one direction. Main, Jefferson, Liberty, Chestnut, Third, Eighth, Seventh, Shelby and Campbell streets would become two-way streets, along with Muhammad Ali Boulevard.
Other projects that received final approval on Monday:
- $4 million for Dixie Highway safety improvements between Crums and Rockford lanes
- More than $3 million to widen Hubbards Lane from two to three lanes between Shelbyville and Westport roads
- Widen I-71 between the Snyder Freeway and Ky. 329 – at a cost of $16 million
- Rebuild the interchange of the Snyder and I-64 in the 2020 fiscal year