WAVE 3 uncovers driving catastrophe waiting to happen downtown

Published: Oct. 2, 2010 at 11:45 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2010 at 4:26 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn
Westbound drivers should be on the right side of these yellow spokes, but apparently they are...
Westbound drivers should be on the right side of these yellow spokes, but apparently they are not getting that message, resulting in near head-on crashes.

By Matt McCutcheon - e-mail | bio

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – It is a project that has been talked about for several weeks:  turning part of downtown Louisville's Main Street into part of a two-way road.  That finally happened at 2:00 pm Saturday, but not without mass confusion.

For decades, Main Street has been a one way, but on the heels of all the construction downtown and the one-week countdown for the grand opening of the KFC Yum! Center, the city decided to change Main Street to a two-way between 3rd and 4th streets.

A city spokesperson says it is to ease traffic patterns during big events, and to also help out neighboring businesses, like the Actor's Theatre, who may experience a back log of traffic if it has events letting out at the same time as the arena. 

The catastrophe comes into play for drivers, who don't seem to know what's going on.

In just 30 minutes, WAVE 3 news witnessed nearly half-a-dozen near head-on crashes.   While driver's seem to know that the one-block part of the road is a two-way, they seem confused about where that lane is located.

"They don't know they are on the opposite side of the yellow line they're honking at each other they look like they're going to hit each other in a head on collision," said downtown resident Amber Ives.

Westbound traffic is supposed to be on the right side of yellow spikes that have popped up, but whether it's poorly marked or the change is just to recent, not many people seem to be getting that message.

"So far today I've seen three almost accidents," said David Greenlee Saturday afternoon, about an hour after the lane changeover.

Greenlee manages the Bluegrass Brewing Company at the corner of Main and 3rd Streets.  His business has lost nearly 30-parking spaces to the lane that's supposed to take drivers in the west direction, but he's worried the confusion is taking driver's in the direction of a crash.

"We've got a bet going about when the first one will be and how often they will be," Greenlee said.

With the potential of deadly head-on crashes, WAVE 3 News took the problem to city hall.

"Main Street is a state road so when we went ahead to make those changes we had to present them with our signage plan and our marking plan and get a permit to actually do that work so all of that has been approved it's gone through several stages," Mayor Jerry Abramson's spokesperson Lindsay English said.

She goes on to say that it is a work in progress.

"We're just sort of making the changes now and then we'll evaluate them when those events at the arena come," English said.

English says the that change takes time to get used to, but the city will continue to monitor that area to see if changes need to be made.  The city will also determine sometime within the next 6 months if the two-way change should become permanent.

Copyright 2010 WAVE News. All rights reserved.