Friday, December 10, 2010

Hundreds brave cold for Dixie Corridor plan meeting

The following is brought to you courtesy of my friends at The Local Weekly, the South End's only paper:
Despite extremely cold temperatures a crowd of around 250 people gathered at the Southwest Government Center to learn about initial plans for an "extreme makeover" of the Dixie Highway corridor.
The informational meeting gave area residents a chance to hear about results of a study completed by Mohammad Nouri of the HNTB Corporation and give their input about what they considered to be the most important issues of the plan.
The extreme makeover would mean big improvements for the southwest area.
Preliminary plans include a signature gateway entrance at the Dixie Highway - I-264 interchange, tree lined streets, new light poles, new traffic signals and poles, enhanced landscaped medians, and new pedestrian walkways. Also a re-design of traffic patterns to make it easier to access both sides of Dixie Highway and improve traffic congestion. On average 60,000 cars traverse the Dixie Highway – I-264 interchange daily.
The area studied begins at Oak Street and ends at Greenwood Road. The study area was divided into two sections. The North section includes Oak Street to I-264. The South section includes I-264 to Greenwood Road. The purpose of the study is to develop a unifying and distinct character for the Dixie Highway corridor while creating a safe and functioning corridor for all users.
In August 2010 advisory groups met to give Mr. Nouri recommendations of what they thought would improve the biggest problems they see every day along the corridor. The advisory group consisted of area residents who live with the daily problems on Dixie Highway. The advisory group stressed safety and creating an environment for the area to thrive. On average five people lose their life every year somewhere along Dixie Highway. Mr. Nouri suggests that this is due to a host of issues that have plagued Dixie Highway for years. Some of the reasons Mr. Nouri pointed out were lack of lighting, too many lane variations where 7 lanes transition to 4 lanes, which transition to 2 lanes, and poor signal timing and synchronization of traffic signals. Within the North and South sections of the Dixie Highway corridor plan there are 26 traffic signals that need to be updated and brought online to control remotely.
The Dixie Highway Corridor Master Plan is broken up into three parts which are land use, transportation, and urban design. Those who attended were able to give their input and vote on which issue they thought was the most important part of each plan. Residents thought the top priority for land use was a new look for the area which would include a unifying makeover with matching utility and light poles, landscaping, enhanced medians, signage, and making better connections for public access. Mohammad talked about the area lacking a sense of character and defined “places”. A makeover of this scale would breathe a breath of fresh air down the Dixie corridor something that is long overdue. Transportation recommendations most favored by meeting goers were to reconstruct Dixie Highway to improve safety, access, and pedestrian traffic through I-264. Also to study the feasibility of a P & L commuter line from downtown Louisville to Fort Knox. Top urban design recommendations included burying or relocating overhead power lines and poles along the Dixie Highway corridor. Also installing matching trash receptacles, pedestrian lighting, benches, TARC shelters, bike racks, and tree lined streets to create a unifying theme and character for the area.
This is the first step in the Dixie Highway Corridor Master Plan which is still in its infancy. Money is the biggest roadblock but the plan creates a vision of what Dixie Highway could look like in the next ten to fifteen years. Top planner, Mohammad Nouri said, “I’ am not worried about the money. The money will come. The commitment is more important than the money.”
Something unique that I would personally like to see happen along Dixie Highway is a safer way to cross the road on foot. Pedestrians are gambling when attempting to cross the busy stretch and drivers, especially once the traffic lights are timed, have no patience for foot traffic. We, as a community, should look at the feasibility of constructing overhead walkways in the busiest locations, similar to ones in use on the Las Vegas strip.

Another item of interest: The master plan stops at Greenwood Road. Fix that.

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