The 'Preferred' Plan to Redesign Lexington Road Has Drawn Concerns From Residents
The city's preferred design for a reconfigured Lexington Road corridor includes lane reductions, sidewalk improvement and a 12-foot-wide cycle track—and critics and supporters, too.
Lexington Road Corridor Transportation Plan design was unveiled Tuesday evening at a public meeting attended by about 60 people. The design would reconfigure Lexington Road between Grinstead and Baxter avenues.
The preferred concept also would:
- Repave the stretch of roadway and improve drainage
- Add a center turning lane
- Add a sidewalk along the north side of the road and a two lane cycle track on the south side of the road way.
- Crosswalks, lights and intermittently placed medians
- A redesign of the intersection at Lexington Road and Liberty Avenue, including revitalizing the viaduct near that intersection and improved TARC stops
The designers will revisit some aspects of the plan, but—even with the critical feedback—they aren't likely to start over, said Steve Sizemore, senior planner with Louisville Metro.
"There are some areas that are challenging, geometrically," Sizemore said. "There are some things that we were asked about tonight that we have given considerable thought and had a lot of headache over because there's not a perfect solution."
Lou Byron has lived on Lexington Road in the Irish Hill neighborhood for nearly 68 years. Byron said he believes reducing the driving lanes from four to two will cause more traffic congestion and longer delays for exiting or entering his driveway.
Byron said it took six minutes to exit his driveway Tuesday evening.
"We're not for it," he said. "It just doesn't make sense."
Chris Wallace was also opposed to the lane reductions. He owns an auto shop in Smoketown and said he travels Lexington Road multiple times a day.
Squeezing vehicles on Lexington Road onto two travel lanes will cause a "mess," especially during rush hour, he said.
"It'll be a nightmare," he added.
But a Louisville-based consultant on the project, Tom Springer, said: "there will be delays."
"But these are not life-changing delays," he added.
The average daily traffic on Lexington Road is about 9,000 vehicles, according to data provided by Louisville Metro. For comparison, Grinstead Avenue carries 14,000 to 19,000 cars.
Sringer said such a small amount of daily traffic makes Lexington Road "a perfect candidate for reducing travel lanes."
"It's a no-brainer," he added.
The center turning lane is expected to decrease the accident rate by 40 percent and cause motorists to drive slower, Springer said. He said the changes would also lead to a 23 percent rise in economic investment.
The stretch of road is in Metro Councilman Bill Hollander's 9th district. He said he would like to see the road become "better, safer."
"I don't think people who drive the road when there are four lanes of traffic on it feel very safe, I hope we can come up with a safer solution for pedestrians and cars," he said.
Still, the parking issue will need to be reconsidered, Sizemore said.
Though there will be a net gain of legal 24-hour parking spaces along the roadway, Springer said, some residents aren't pleased with the loss of other de facto spaces along the north side, specifically near Headliners Music Hall.
"Parking is a thorny issue," he added.
Critics of the proposed two-lane bicycle track along the north side of Lexington Road say the track will lead to confusion for experienced and novice cyclists alike.
Andy Murphy, president of the Louisville Bicycle Club, said there "will be a potential for conflict on the cycle track" when large groups of cyclists take to the street. Other cyclists said trouble will arise when a cyclist wants to cross the road to turn at an intersection.
But some say the cycle track will give them a sense of safety during bicycle rides down Lexington Road. Springer said that is, in part, the goal of the reconfiguration of the roadway.
“We want a diverse group of people out there riding," he said. "We want families, people who would not normally ride their bike."
Designers will consider all feedback to the proposed plan as the enter the final design phase, Sizemore said.
He stressed that the plan will not be presented as an "all-or-nothing" item to Metro Council. The council will be required to approve funding for each individual project within the final plan, which means each individual aspect of the overall plan from repavement to lights can be voted on separately.
"There are different elements to it that will happen potentially over the next two years," he said.
Exact costs have yet to be finalized. The planning process cost about $60,000 and the repaving of the road and improving the drainage is expected to cost about $700,000, designers said.
And making changes of this scale is not an easy task, said Patrick Piuma, director of Louisville's Urban Design Studio.
He said it is "critical" for urban planners to communicate with everyone that will be directly affected by a proposal in order to "find a middle ground that doesn't jeopardize the goal of the project."
"It's a tenuous balance making sure you take into consideration what people want and what is going to move things forward," he said.
Sizemore said designers are aware that some people may need to "change the way they are moving."
"At the end of the day we know that this is going to be a safer facility all together," he said. "This road is going to be a success."