A consultant hired to study traffic patterns and suggest safety improvements along Baxter Avenue and Bardstown Road in the Highlands neighborhood has released a draft recommendation.
It includes removing the often-confusing “ping pong” lights that change traffic flow during rush hour, and ending parking restrictions along the corridor.
“I think this is a real opportunity to fundamentally transform the Bardstown Road corridor,” said District 8 Councilman Brandon Coan. His office funded part of the $90,000 study with the district’s discretionary spending; an additional $40,000 came from the city’s general fund.
The plan emphasizes pedestrian safety, mobility and the vitality of the corridor, which it calls “the coolest road in Louisville.”
But though it may be “cool,” it’s also pretty dangerous. Between 2013 and 2017, there were an average of 544 crashes a year on the stretch, according to the report. An average of nine crashes a year involved pedestrians.
“It’s literally one of the most dangerous stretches of road in the entire state of Kentucky,” Coan said. “The little section between Broadway and Highland Ave where a lot of the bars and things are is the number one corridor segment for crashes in the entire state.”
So consultants from local firm Qk4 studied four possible outcomes to improve safety and mobility along the entire stretch of the corridor — from Broadway to I-264. The preferred alternative identified in the draft report would eliminate the current system of peak-hour parking restrictions and rush hour lane changes.
Instead, from Broadway to Douglass Boulevard, there would always be just one northbound and one southbound traffic lane. On-street parking on both sides of the street would be permanent, and there would be left turn lanes at major intersections.
For two small stretches of Bardstown Road — Douglass Blvd to Taylorsville Road and Tyler Lane to I-264 — there would be five lanes of traffic: two in each direction, and a two-way left turn lane.
No changes to the road are planned for the stretch from Taylorsville Road to Tyler Lane, except for new sidewalks.
Coan said there are expected to be minor effects to rush hour traffic, but said the planners are measuring those in seconds, not minutes. But despite the fact that the corridor is used for commuting, he said the feedback he’s gotten suggests locals don’t want that to be the road’s primary function.
“I think people that live and work in the Highlands don’t want Bardstown Road to be a highway,” Coan said. “We sort of want to transform the character and the function of it a little more to be sort of the residential serving street that it is so the people who live and work in the area can do their shopping and eating there in a safer, more enjoyable atmosphere.”
The draft of the report released Thursday evening will undergo tweaks over the next few months, and Coan said he hopes any additional funding needed to make changes will be included in the next fiscal year’s budget. He said changes could be implemented along Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue by the end of this calendar year.