KYTC says no way to making streets two-way during bridge, road w - wave3.com-Louisville News, Weather & Sports

KYTC says no way to making streets two-way during bridge, road work

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Jim Williams Jim Williams
Greg Galiette Greg Galiette
Rebecca Matheny Rebecca Matheny

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - The Louisville Downtown Partnership is a step closer to getting state money to open several major downtown thoroughfares to two-way traffic. But the Transportation Cabinet may put the brakes on it.

An upscale clothier thrives when its customers stand out. So it doesn't help The Leading Man to have Chestnut Street run Eastbound. Drivers see Jim Williams' South 4th Street storefront only in their rear-view mirrors.

"If traffic ran both ways, you'd get double the traffic," Williams said on Tuesday.

"It helps encourage businesses," said Rebecca Matheny, interim executive director of the Louisville Downtown Partnership. "It really helps encourage the navigability of downtown."

It's why the Partnership has pushed Kentucky's General Assembly for six years, for help convert several main downtown thoroughfares to two-way traffic. As approved in the House Appropriations & Revenue Committee Tuesday morning, the next two-year budget would spend $2.4 million to change Main Street, Jefferson Street, Liberty Street, Chestnut Street, 3rd Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard. A second phase would spend $780,000 to open up 8th, 9th, Shelby and Campbell Streets to two-way traffic.

"It also could really assist with work during the bridge construction, by giving people alternate routes, alternate ways to get around,"  Matheny said.

Except, Kentucky's Transportation Cabinet stands in the way.

"We have asked them to re-prioritize," Cabinet spokesman Andrea Clifford said via email. "We were not going to support their conversion of state routes while the Ohio River Bridges project is going on."

Main Street (US 31E) and 3rd Street (KY 1020) are true state routes. All other streets proposed for two-way conversion intersect either Main or 3rd Streets.

"It'd cause a little bit of re-acclimation by folks," said Greg Galiette, Senior Vice President of the Louisville Bats. Hopefully, we won't have too many people driving into each other to get used to it, if it does happen."

Galiette's tongue is firmly planted in cheek. The bridge and road-widening projects already have cost the Bats several parking spaces at Slugger Field, to accommodate the Interstate 65 Southbound exit ramp extension onto Brook Street.

"We really don't think any of this is going to have much of an impact at all," Galiette said. The Bats' March 29 exhibition game with Major League parent Cincinnati Reds is sold out. Sales have been brisk for the April 10 home opener, launching a nine-day stand featuring series with Columbus, Toledo and Indianapolis.

"Maybe we've grown accustomed to it (road work), but we really haven't thought much about it," Galiette said.

The Downtown Partnership hasn't submitted a revised list, in light of Transportation Cabinet objections.

"But we have a very very careful eye toward not impacting the project," Matheny said.

Williams is hopeful that change will come.

"Things change in this city all the time; buildings, parking lots," he said. "We like to think of ourselves as a growing city, a metropolitan city."

"And the locals will figure out the parking situation. They do everywhere else."

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