LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's a tradition as strong as the Derby itself: Neighborhood parking. Come Derby time, the residents of South Louisville are known for turning the Downs' limited transportation options into potential profits.
Patience and a plan are suggested for those visiting Churchill Downs this weekend. Thousands of people will pack the city for the most exciting two minutes in sports - and so will their cars.
Getting visitors to and from Churchill Downs efficiently has been a problem for years, if not decades. This year, track officials created a new plan to help mitigate transportation problems.
Derby 144 brings a new transportation plan for the track, one which focuses on shuttles, buses and pedestrian traffic. and limits entrances into the track.
On Friday (Oaks Day) and Saturday (Derby Day), Central Avenue will be closed to the public. Instead, the street will be used exclusively by shuttle buses.
Guests walking to the track from neighborhood parking lots or Papa John's Cardinal Stadium may only cross Central Avenue at Third and Ninth Streets.
For residents of the surrounding neighborhood, the new plan also means lots of changes.
Neighborhood parking lots (which are often just the yards of peoples' homes) open themselves to thousands of visitors, offering plenty of paid parking options for guests.
This is the first year fences will line Central Avenue, blocking the southern entrance to the neighborhood.
South Louisville resident Carl Roution has been operating a neighborhood lot since 1971.
"For me it's been good," Roution said."I like it a lot better because it slows the traffic. It has helped us, especially with the bridge and the crossing it has helped us a whole lot."
Roution said being located close to the Ninth Street crossing and being an established lot means the changes haven't affected him - or his profits - negatively.
But other pay-to-park lot owners who depend on the revenue from drive-by traffic said the new plan will not help them.
"We would have at least 15 or 16 [cars] in each yard, and now we have one," Sharetta Lee said, referring to the number of cars parking in her lot.
Lee lives off Rodman Street and said Thurby hasn't been a strong start to her Derby 144 parking business.
"It's like we have been caged in our neighborhood," Lee said.
Churchill Downs encourages neighborhood parking, management said.
Cars can still enter north of the neighborhood, but won't be able to turn onto Central Avenue.
The LMPD's Traffic Unit has also complied an express exit plan after Derby:
- Those traveling west should take Central Avenue, Arcade Avenue, Berry Boulevard, and Algonquin Parkway.
- Those traveling south should take Southern Parkway, Seventh Street, or Taylor Boulevard.
- Those traveling north should take Third Street, Ninth Street, Floyd Street and Crittenden Drive.
There are more road and interstate ramp closures for Derby. A list of restricted traffic, road closures and parking areas may be found here on the Kentucky Derby website.