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Preston corridor safety and transit changes heading for public review

A TARC bus drives across an intersection along the Preston corridor.
Jacob Munoz
Designated bus lanes may be added to the Preston corridor, which could reduce time spent waiting in traffic.

City officials expect to release an updated plan for the Preston corridor, which addresses injuries and fatalities, this spring.

The Preston Corridor Plan aims to improve safety and increase opportunity on Preston Street and Preston Highway across Jefferson County. The 13-mile corridor begins from downtown in the north and runs along neighborhoods including Schnitzelburg, Newburg and Okolona.

Tony Mattingly and Rachel Casey, urban planners with the city’s Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability, said the design process has been led by a steering committee of transportation experts and government officials and an advisory group of community members like residents and business owners.

“What's coming next is that we will be meeting with both of those groups. We are going to be posting the plan to our website, along with a survey. We want as many people to pour over the document as they possibly can to send us comments,” Mattingly said.

Casey said the office aims to discuss the updated plan with the groups by the end of March before presenting it to the wider community for feedback in April. The most recent round of public engagement happened last summer, and work on the plan since then has been focused on writing.

“Pretty much all of the graphics that are going to be in the final plan were already established last summer. They might just have some very slight tweaks to them. I'm talking like, you know, a four foot sidewalk instead of a six foot sidewalk or something like that,” Casey said.

City planners are considering updating sidewalks and adding bus lanes, among other changes, to the intersection of Preston Street and Eastern Parkway.
Courtesy of Louisville Metro's Office of Advanced Planning and Sustainability
City planners are considering updating sidewalks and adding bus lanes, among other changes, to the intersection of Preston Street and Eastern Parkway.

The city’s 20-year Move Louisville plan in 2016 identified the state-owned corridor for transit improvements and discussed danger related to high speeds and a lack of safe crosswalks and vehicle turning space.

Mattingly said that safety along Preston is worse south of Clarks Lane as the corridor widens to four lanes, two in each direction, and speed limits increase. He said it gets more challenging for pedestrians to cross safely.

“What's telling about the data for Preston is that almost all of the serious injuries and almost all the fatalities have happened south of Clarks Lane,” he said, adding that 13 Louisvillians died on Preston from 2021-22 and another 33 were seriously injured.

There were eight fatalities and 27 injuries on public roadways in Louisville this January, according to Kentucky State Police data.

The plan divides the corridor into seven segments to target specific needs along the street and highway, and offers multiple ideas for how they could be altered.

Mattingly said possible safety changes include adding more sidewalks and crosswalks, improving lighting and reducing vehicle speeds. Potential transit changes include dedicated bus lanes, more frequent bus stops, and bike lanes on the street or on wide sidewalks when next to faster vehicles

Casey said there is no set timeline for construction until funding is secured, though she added the project could take at least 10-15 years to complete in its entirety.

Mattingly said project leaders would look to apply for federal RAISE grants, which offer funding for state and local transportation projects. He said the most recent cost estimate was between $80 and $120 million.

Last summer, two Louisville street projects received more than a combined $20 million in RAISE support.

Jacob is LPM's Business and Development Reporter. Email Jacob at jmunoz@lpm.org.