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Muhammad Ali Boulevard, Chestnut Street could become two-way streets

Published: Feb. 18, 2021 at 9:38 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Despite a cold, snowy day, the orders were still coming in hot at Sweet Peaches restaurant on 18th Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard.

For eight years, owner Pamela Haines has used her restaurant to feed her community.

The recipes for the homemade soups and sweets have been passed down through generations, beginning with Haines’ great-grandmother.

“It’s about family,” Haines said. “It’s about the people in this neighborhood. This building, down the street over here. they know they can feel safe and be fed healthy.”

Despite her success, Haines has seen her share of problems.

She said cars continuously speed down the one-way boulevard, and several have crashed through her front window. She said the most recent was a few months ago, and forced her to construct steel barriers outside the door.

The thousands in repairs are one of the many dangers of running a business on a busy one-way street.

“We finally got barriers put up, but I think that two-way would cut down on some of the accidents and bring more customers to me,” Haines said.

Haines may get her wish.

The Louisville Metro Council has set aside $1 million to convert Muhammad Ali Boulevard and Chestnut Street/River Park Drive from one-way to two-way streets. The project would start at 9th Street and proceed to Southwestern Parkway near Shawnee Park. The project also includes upgrades to Interstate 264 intersections and traffic signals.

Metro Council President David James told WAVE 3 News the plan is to start the project in the fall and hopefully complete it in summer 2021.

On Wednesday, Develop Louisville held a virtual community meeting to explain the project and get community feedback from residents.

According to Develop Louisville data, from 2017-2019 there were 874 crashes on Chestnut Street, 626 of them considered “property damage only.” In that same time frame, there were 664 crashes on Muhammad Ali Boulevard, 499 of them considered “property damage only.”

James told WAVE 3 News the project would make West Louisville safer and more equitable.

“If you live on a one-way street where cars are racing down the street, literally drag racing, and you’re trying to raise a family, there’s nothing about that that’s good,” James said. “There’s really nothing about it that’s good. It makes your neighborhood a miniature freeway basically, and living on freeway has never been a good thing.”

The benefits go beyond traffic.

Dr. John Gilderbloom, a leader in urban affair and a professor of Urban and Public Affairs at UofL, told WAVE 3 News converting one-way streets to two-way streets can dramatically reduce crime and completely change the face of a neighborhood for the better.

“The research is there,” Gilderbloom said. “The statistics are there. Two-way streets are better for families, better for children, businesses...everyone’s a winner.”

Harris is hoping the project will bring in more business, and allow her to continue feeding her community.

“Metro Council bring it on,” Haines said.

To watch Develop Louisville’s community meeting, click here.

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