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Louisville report finds slow progress on city traffic safety measures

An empty gray road runs along a sidewalk surrounded by overgrown grass.
Courtesy Louisville Metro Public Works
A stretch of Crumbs Lane in west Louisville is one of several roadways that city planners want to renovate using federal and local funds.

A government initiative to eliminate roadway deaths by 2050 determined several of Louisville’s road redesign goals weren’t completed last year.

Last summer, Louisville Metro Council passed an ordinance requiring the city’s Department of Public Works to work with other agencies on creating a plan for reducing traffic fatalities.

On Tuesday, the department presented the Vision Zero Louisville 2022 Annual Report to the council’s public works committee. Released earlier this month, it looks at safety progress and statistics on city roads.

It found 10 strategies recommended in a 2021 report weren’t completed last year. That includes resurfacing five roadway corridors, removing outdated traffic signals at three intersections and adding lighting to five high-risk intersections.

The report found that fatalities and serious injuries rose from 2021-22, extending an overall increase in casualties since 2018.

“The ability to safely navigate our city for work, school, and recreation is essential to a healthy, thriving Louisville,” Mayor Craig Greenberg said in a message introducing the report.

Obtaining local funding to complete the 2021 report’s recommendations and performing an audit on city-owned roads with speed limits above 35 MPH are among Public Works’ safety goals for the next few years, the report said.

Claire Yates is Vision Zero Louisville’s program manager. She said at Tuesday’s committee meeting that the local initiative, inspired by a national movement, offers a new way to tackle traffic safety.

“This is a shift from a conventional safety approach, because it focuses on both human mistakes and human vulnerability, and designs a system with many redundancies in place to protect everyone,” Yates said.

She added the department will ask for more funding for traffic control signs and roadway markings in the upcoming city budget. Last year’s budget designated $500,000 for signs and markings.

The U.S. Department of Transportation granted $21 million last month for Louisville to work on 10 roadway safety projects identified by Vision Zero Louisville. The remaining $5 million estimated for the project will come from city and state funding.

Madonna Flood, a Democrat representing District 24 who serves on the public works committee, said Wednesday she thinks the city needs automated roadway cameras. Those aren’t currently allowed in Kentucky.

“Some people say, ‘Just lower the speed limit.’ That doesn't do the trick, lowering the speed limit. Unfortunately, sometimes people have to pay fines to change their behavior,” Flood said.

Council called on state lawmakers last year to pass a bill that would allow the cameras, which can ticket drivers who run red lights and don’t follow speed limits. But that legislation has not been embraced in the majority-Republican chambers.

Flood also said she advocated for funding roadway improvements on Blue Lick Road, which partly runs through her district. The Courier Journal reported last year on residents’ concerns about the ongoing state-led project.

More than 120 people were killed on Louisville roadways in each of the past three years according to the city’s Department of Public Works and the Kentucky State Police. At least 14 people have been killed in 2023 according to a Vision Zero Louisville task force presentation.

Vision Zero Louisville is a financial supporter of LPM.

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

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