A major project to improve safety along one of the city’s most traveled highways began a new phase today, as Mayor Greg Fischer and U.S. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao announced the construction kickoff of the New Dixie Highway Project.
Upon completion in December 2019, the improved corridor will include safety improvements such as new medians, wider sidewalks and clearly marked crosswalks; efficiency improvements including responsive traffic signals linked by fiber optic cable; and the city’s first bus rapid transit system which will vastly improve bus travel times to and from downtown.
“The U.S. Department of Transportation’s $16.9 million TIGER grant is providing nearly half of the funding for the New Dixie Highway Project to greatly improve the Louisville area transportation network,” said Secretary Chao. “As a resident of Louisville, I have spent a lot of time driving Dixie Highway and am delighted to be part of this effort to improve the safety and efficiency of the city’s busiest traffic corridor.
The $35 million project will create a New Dixie Highway that’s safer for drivers and pedestrians, and will fuel transformation of a major economic corridor for southwest and west Louisville. The New Dixie Highway Project is the first major construction project under the Mayor’s MOVE Louisville initiative.
“We’re investing more money into improving Dixie Highway right now than any other corridor in the city,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “This road is a crucial connector for people to get to schools, to work, to health care, and most importantly, to get back home. This project will not only make Dixie safer for drivers, but it will make it more attractive for business owners, consumers and investors.”
Dixie Highway carries nearly 60,000 vehicles per day near its busiest intersections, which is a higher traffic count than some interstate stretches. Dixie Highway also suffers a fatality rate three times higher than comparable Kentucky roadways.
The project includes funding from federal, state and local sources, including a $16.9 million federal TIGER grant, $5.28 federal funds through KIPDA, $12 million in state funds, and $600,000 from Louisville Metro.
“It takes collaboration and support between city, state and federal partners to move a project of this size forward,” said KYTC Secretary Greg Thomas. “The upcoming construction, coupled with roadway improvements in recent years, will completely transform Dixie Highway into a safer, better-connected corridor.”
Mayor Fischer, Sec. Chao, KYTC Sec. Thomas, Congressman John Yarmuth, Metro Council members and other leaders celebrated the New Dixie Highway construction kickoff at the Kroger Marketplace, a $23 million grocery and retail superstore, at 4915 Dixie Highway. The location is appropriate, Mayor Fischer said, because the project builds on the renaissance already under way on the corridor, with tens of millions of dollars in private investments in new restaurants, retail businesses, housing and other developments.
Safety improvements lead the way
This month, MAC Construction began preparations for construction, including temporary lane shifts and utility location. Safety improvements will include new concrete medians designed to limit left turns between Crums Lane and Greenwood Road. Dedicated turn lanes will reduce the risk for head-on collisions. Pedestrians will enjoy new, more accommodating sidewalks that are eight feet wide in many areas, and better markings for crosswalks.
The city’s busiest transit corridor will also get the region’s first “bus rapid transit” line, including distinctive TARC buses and high-visibility shelters to help move thousands of people daily and better define the 14-mile corridor. More than 100 trees will be planted along the route, as well as native grasses and plants within the new landscaped medians.
Mayor Fischer thanked state legislators, Metro Council members and the KYTC for their commitment to improving safety and mobility along Dixie Highway, noting that without their work to secure state and local matching funds, the city would not have been able to leverage the federal grant to jump-start the project.
Bus rapid transit will help move people to work, home
Fueled by a $16.9 million federal TIGER grant, the New Dixie Highway project will include a new bus rapid transit line along Dixie Highway from around the Gene Snyder Freeway to Broadway, and connect to the downtown business district. It will include specially designed vehicles and bus stations that will reduce travel times for riders and increase reliability along Louisville’s most used public-transit corridor.
“This strategic investment in a proven transportation solution will help transit users get to work, to stores and back home faster and more reliably than today,” Yarmuth said. “That’s important for working families, employers and our regional economy.”
With more than 30 distinctively branded bus shelters, new buses and sidewalk improvements, the New Dixie Highway project will also help transform the look and feel of the corridor.
Multiple improvements on Dixie are already underway or completed
Overall, more than $50 million has been invested in Dixie Highway in a series of projects over the past two years. The total investment of federal, state and local dollars includes:
Open house meetings planned for early 2018
Citizens will get a chance to learn more about the planned improvements at an open house meeting in early 2018. Citizens can also get more information through the project website (www.TheNewDixieHighway.com) and social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter.