$50M Dixie Do Over: Repaving, widening allows for more safety and stores

$50M Dixie Do Over: Repaving, widening allows for more safety and stores
Kroger will open its first Marketplace concept in the Metro on Sept. 22. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Kroger will open its first Marketplace concept in the Metro on Sept. 22. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Where once a vacant anchor store discouraged shopping or stopping, the re-branded Dixie Crossings beckons both in the 4900 block of Dixie Highway across from Upper Hunter's Trace.

Kroger will open its first Marketplace concept in the Metro on Sept. 22. On Wednesday, its parking lot served as the launch for spelling out the next phase of the $50 million Dixie Do Over, the Metro's largest transportation project since the new Ohio River Bridges.

"Going to make Dixie Highway much more than just a way to get to or from downtown Louisville and Fort Knox," U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth (D-Kentucky 3rd District) told the crowd.

"It could no longer be Dixie Dieway," Metro Council President David Yates said. "If it could no longer be just a corridor, but a destination."

A $16.9 million federal TIGER grant will allow TARC to create its first rapid-transit bus line from the Gene Snyder Freeway to Broadway, with eight new energy-efficient buses.

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"New technology will trigger traffic lights to turn on or stay green as these modern buses approach," TARC Board Chairman Cedric Merlin Powell said.

"I'm glad to see they're going to bump that up a notch," Kroger Marketplace employee Mary Jankowski said. "There's a lot of people who work here who don't drive."

The next two years will include repaving of five miles of Dixie Highway between Stonegate Manor Drive and Greenwood Road.

"The problems are most serious between Crums Lane in Shively and Greenwood Road in PRP," Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Leanne Daniel was grateful to hear more medians are coming; so many that Fischer referred to it as "Dixie Boulevard."

"Get the bikes and everybody off of the roads," Daniel said. "Bike lanes, wider sidewalks, more crosswalks."

All are coming, as is work on the exit ramps from the Watterson Expressway.

"Oh, my - oh my, very dangerous," Jankowksi's coworker, Holly Lindon, said. "When you have three lanes going to one that's very dangerous."

Lindon's relieved to hear more left-turn lanes are coming.

"No more Hail Mary's," she said. "No more gripping the steering wheel wondering if somebody's gonna turn left."

Kroger's $23 million Marketplace almost doubles the space of its store farther south on Dixie. It will create 120 more jobs, sell clothing and furnishings, and have its own medical clinic and bank branch.

"It's a substantial vote-of-confidence," manager Steve King said.

How well it flies could determine when - or even if - other economic development moves from artist renderings to reality. The visions include a revitalized Dixie Manor Shopping Center as a retail and residential hub of a downtown southwest Louisville Metro. The area back of it, and St. Paul's Church, are seen as a Golden Zone, a planned-unit housing development for active seniors.

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The Southwest Government Center has little more than a tennis court, but it is envisioned to be a recreational park.

Residents will have an opportunity to weigh in on preliminary designs for the roadwork in two upcoming Open Houses from 5 to 7 p.m. on Sept. 14 at the Southwest Regional Library and Sept. 15 at Wheatley Elementary School. For those who can't make one of the meetings, a project website - TheNewDixieHighway.com - will include the latest information about the project and an online contact form to relay comments. The site also includes links to Facebook and Twitter channels and a form to sign up for periodic email updates.

"I've reason to believe (their) promises because they're delivering," Jankowski said. "You should be patient. It's just a good way to look at things."

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