Mayor kicks off master plan to make Broadway safer from end to end

Mayor Greg Fischer speaks at a press conference at the TARC headquarters on Thursday. To his right is TARC Assistant Executive Director Ferdinand L. Risco Jr., and to his left is Develop Louisville Director Jeff O’Brien. | Photo by Lisa Hornung

Mayor Greg Fischer announced at a news conference Thursday that the city and the Move Louisville project would begin accepting proposals for a master plan for Broadway from Shawnee Park to Baxter Avenue.

The goal is to have a Complete Street: a street that accommodates all forms of transportation being used on that street, including cars, buses, bikes, pedestrians, scooters and more. The master plan will take all those types of transportation into consideration, the mayor said.

The Broadway corridor has seen its share of safety issues, Fischer said in the news conference, held at the TARC headquarters in Union Station.

A view of Broadway and the Brown Hotel in 1930. Cars, trolleys and pedestrians used the street heavily. | Courtesy of the UofL photo archives, Caufield & Shook collection

An accident Wednesday morning in which two brothers ages 11 and 13 were hit by a car while walking to their school bus is just one incident that highlights the need for a safer street, Fischer said.

The project comes on the heels of the Dixie Highway do-over project, which is expected to be complete in 2019. Move Louisville considers Broadway as one of its 16 priority projects and recommends a complete retrofit of the street.

According to the city, the objectives for the master plan are to build upon the five CHASE principles — Connected, Healthy, Authentic, Sustainable, Equitable, which are part of the framework for the Plan 2040, the city’s comprehensive plan.

Fischer said the accident involving the brothers is “a reminder that we need to make Broadway a more safe street.”

“We want to transform the corridor from the needs of the day, which was heavily auto-centric to a multi-modal, or what we call a Complete Street, that accommodates not just cars and buses but bikes and other forms or mobility as well,” he added. “When we do this what we see is improved connectivity, mobility, safety and aesthetics. We also know in talking to businesses that it promotes economic development and enhances quality of place as well.”

District 4 Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith spoke at a news conference on Nov. 1, alongside Mayor Greg Fischer and Jefferson Community and Technical College President Ty Handy.| Photo by Lisa Hornung

District 4 Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith said, “safety is our No. 1 issue, our No. 1 concern and our No. 1 priority. We’re making great strides in making this a much safer community, neighborhood by neighborhood, all day, every day.”

Jeff O’Brien, director of Develop Louisville, said that some of the possibilities to explore for the street include bike lanes, dedicated bus facilities and more. In the master plan process, there will be studies of traffic patterns to determine what kind of demand there will be for bike lanes on Broadway or other safety moves.

He said the department would work with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Federal Highway Commission to stay within legal limits.

“A lot of the danger on the street has been for pedestrians and cyclists, and with a Complete Street, we consider all users,” O’Brien said. “That’s where a technical analysis comes in. We want to make sure we’re not causing too much congestion and delay.”

He said the budget for the master plan will be around $500,000. “Once we get the proposals back, we’ll have a better idea of what the budget for the project will be,” he said. But the estimated amount will be around $40 million.

The delays in the Dixie Highway project were mostly due to finding unexpected pipes and lines underground, O’Brien added, and better front-end planning will help prevent that with the Broadway project.