Road expansion plan may doom Southside Drive businesses - News, Weather & Sports

Road expansion plan may doom Southside Drive businesses

A section of Southside Drive A section of Southside Drive
A look at how the expansion would change Southside Drive. A look at how the expansion would change Southside Drive.
Linda Cox Linda Cox
Joe Ratterman Joe Ratterman

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A popular section of town is about to get a facelift. The problem is not everyone who lives there is happy about the changes. In fact, people who live and work in the area are stepping in to block the expansion of Southside Drive. 

Rubbies has stood the test of time. 

"It will be 24 years this year," said owner Linda Cox.

It probably wouldn't be overstating to call it a Southside Drive landmark. Cox says you can definitely call it a family.

"Family run and the employees are like family also because we've been together for so long," she said.

For almost a quarter of a century, the same people have offered friendly greetings as well as BBQ pork and baby back ribs.

"For instance, the girl that's bartending here today, she's been here probably 17 or 18 years," she said. "We have a lot of long-term employees." 

That is why the thought of shutting down Rubbies hurts Cox's wallet and her heart.

"A lot of them are single mothers taking care of their children and it's hard for them to go out and find another job," said Cox.

Rubbies is one of three shops doing business that a planned widening of Southside Drive would likely force to close.

"I was shocked when I saw 99 feet wide. I'm like, 'Oh my goodness,'" said Joe Ratterman, owner of Joseph E. Ratterman & Son funeral home on Southside Drive and vice president of the Iroquois Area Business Association.

According to Ratterman, the actual toll is much higher.

"Fifteen are going to be shut down or seriously damaged," said Ratterman.

So Ratterman and the IABA put out a petition, asking the state of Kentucky to change the plan and save the businesses.

"We had over 2,000 signatures in like a month's time," Ratterman said.

Then he got support from the area's lawmakers. New Representative Denny Butler just sent a letter to the state transportation secretary, asking the department to scrap the plan. There's been no answer yet, but Cox is hopeful that Rubbies, which has grown with so many, won't be rubbed out.

"A lot of the customers that we have now actually during their high school days their parents would come up and bring them," Cox said. "Now these children have grown up and they're bringing their families."

Ratterman and Cox both said that the businesses would be happy with an expansion to three lanes but what Southside Drive really needs is an overpass to bypass the train tracks that often cause long backups.

A spokeswoman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said it hasn't gotten the request from lawmakers yet and points out that it was lawmakers who approved the project in the bi-annual highway plan. Right now, preliminary engineering and environmental analysis for the project are moving forward.

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