Sunday June 26, 2022
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Mayor Greg Fischer joined AARP Kentucky State President Charlotte Whittaker today to celebrate safety improvements at Ninth Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard made possible by the AARP Livable Communities Initiative, which supports community efforts to increase livability and safety for residents of all ages.

The AARP initiative funds quick-action projects that build momentum for change in communities. AARP awarded Louisville $10,550 toward a $15,550 project that improves the intersection in three ways:

  • Upgrading crosswalks for greater visibility and pedestrian safety;
  • Adding plaza space and benches in front of an existing public art piece in the median;
  • And enhancing public art by adding a plaque to accompany Isaac Duncan III’s “Kae Me: The Lesson from the Black Star,” a piece that was erected in the median in 2003.

These improvements at one intersection is the first in a larger plan to reimagine Ninth Street as a safer, more pedestrian friendly corridor and add to the flow of investment into west Louisville, which totals about $1 billion over the past four years.

“Right now, we find that Ninth Street has unsafe pedestrian conditions, underutilized right of way and speeding cars. Our overall goal is to make Ninth Street safer for pedestrians, and the AARP grant is a great kickstart to the work,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “These improvements are part of about $1 billion in investment committee to west Louisville—including Passport Health Plan campus, Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, Beecher Terrace transformation and The Track On Ali.”

“AARP Kentucky is proud to support this community investment in pedestrian safety and making the neighborhood even more walkable,” said AARP Kentucky State President Charlotte Whittaker. “It’s an exciting example of how the AARP Community Challenge ‘quick action’ grant projects are helping make immediate improvements and jumpstarting long-term progress supporting residents of all ages.”

The grant is complemented by many projects along and adjacent to Ninth Street designed to break down this dividing point in our city:

  • Dixie Highway Bus Rapid Transit, which will run on Ninth Street when service begins in 2019;
  • Quinn Chapel stabilization starting in 2019;
  • The Knot, an inviting public art installation at Ninth & Main, debuting in early 2019;
  • Phase I of Beecher Terrace, a senior facility, finishing construction in 2019. Phase II, about 100 townhomes and apartments between 10th, 11th, Jefferson and Liberty streets will start in 2019.
  • And the extension of River Road west, which will connect to Waterfront Park Phase IV, starting in 2020;

The city has also applied for a BUILD grant to implement the Reimagine 9th Street corridor plan, which envisions an attractive, vibrant and safe connection between west Louisville and downtown. BUILD is the current iteration of TIGER, the grant that made has made improvements on Dixie Highway possible. The U.S. Department of Transportation will announce BUILD grant recipients by the end of the year.

Ninth Street from River Road to Broadway averages 142 crashes per year, and 255 jaywalkers per day. The city expects pedestrian and bike activity to increase along Ninth with the transformation of Beecher Terrace and the new Bus Rapid Transit line.

To learn more about the Reimagine 9th Street plan, please visit https://louisvilleky.gov/government/advanced-planning/reimagine-9th-street

Transit Authority of River CityLouisville Mayor Greg Fischer announced today that TARC Executive Director J. Barry Barker is retiring after nearly 25 years leading the city’s public transportation agency. His last day is Nov. 30.

TARC Assistant Executive Director Ferdinand L. Risco Jr., who joined TARC in February 2017, will begin serving as Interim Executive Director after Barker retires.

“I am so grateful to Barry Barker for all he has accomplished at TARC and in leadership roles with non-profit and professional organizations at the local, state and federal levels,” Mayor Fischer said. “In true Barry style, of course, he’s already said that he plans to continue helping our city through volunteer work, and I look forward to continuing to work with him as he transitions to that new role.”

“It’s been a great ride, and I know the TARC team, along with an outstanding Board of Directors, will do great things.  I’m forever grateful for the opportunity to have served TARC and our city,” Barker said. “After nearly 25 years with this great organization, I’m now looking forward to staying engaged in volunteer organizations, traveling and enjoying family and friends more.”

TARC Board Chair Cedric Merlin Powell said Barker’s “indelible imprint on Louisville’s transportation system has provided access, opportunity and enhanced quality of life to all citizens of Louisville Metro.”

“He is a national leader in public transportation and a true public servant, the rare public official whose heart is even bigger than his service,” Powell said. “I, and the Board, wish to express our sincere gratitude in recognition of all he has done for TARC and the community.”

Risco, a U.S. Army veteran with more than 20 years of experience relating to transportation with private, public and non-profit organizations, said, “This is an exciting time at TARC with improvements underway.  I’m honored to serve as Interim Executive Director and to work with Barry Barker and everyone on the TARC team.”

Before joining TARC, Risco was Executive Director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Association.

Early next year, TARC will launch a “tap and go” electronic fare payment system on all buses and a new mobility website with start-to-finish trip planning options linking TARC, ride sharing and biking.  The region’s first Bus Rapid Transit route will begin operating in late 2019 along Dixie Highway for faster service linking downtown and southwest Jefferson County.

And in May, TARC will host the American Public Transportation Association’s 2019 Bus and Paratransit Conference, which will bring 5,000 transit industry representatives to Louisville.

Under Barker, TARC was designated in 2006 as the nation’s Urban System of the Year by the Community Transportation Association of American.  The next year, Barker was recognized as the Outstanding Public Transportation Manager of the Year by the American Public Transportation Association. In 2012, the Transportation Research Board of the National Academies honored Barker with the Sharon D. Banks Award for Humanitarian Leadership in Transportation.

Locally, Barker has served on more than a dozen non-profit agency boards, including in leadership positions, and in 2010 headed Metro United Way’s annual fundraising campaign.

TARC provides 12 million passenger trips a year, with 63 percent of riders traveling to and from work, and another 20 percent on school trips.

“TARC moves the workforce of today and tomorrow, and we’re critical for people to access opportunity and all life has to offer,” Barker said. “I have always been motivated by the belief that the quality of life in our communities is only as good as it is for the least advantaged members of our communities. Access to life’s opportunities is a must if communities and individuals are to thrive.  I’ve been fortunate to champion these beliefs at TARC and in the community.”

The Mayor will work with the TARC board on next steps.

Mayor Fischer has announced today that Develop Louisville’s Office of Advanced Planning will issue a Request For Proposal to create a master plan for Broadway between Shawnee Park and Baxter Avenue. The city is seeking proposals that will transform the corridor, as envisioned by Move Louisville, from its existing auto-centric form into a multi-modal “complete street” designed to enable safe, convenient, and efficient access with a focus on premium transit that will serve as a catalyst for economic development.

Move Louisville, the city’s long-range transportation plan, identifies Broadway as one of its 16 priority projects and recommends a complete street retrofit of the corridor. The entire length of Broadway (about six miles) from Shawnee Park to Baxter Avenue will be studied. The objectives for the Broadway master plan are to build upon the five guiding CHASE principles (Connected, Healthy, Authentic, Sustainable, Equitable) established as the framework for Plan 2040, the city’s comprehensive plan.

“From end to end, Broadway is diverse in people, culture, business and landscape. A ride starting at Shawnee Park and ending at Cave Hill Cemetery will offer anyone a remarkable look at Louisville’s diverse neighborhoods,” said Mayor Greg Fischer. “That ride though should be safer for people in cars, in buses, on a bicycle or on foot. The corridor is too car focused and has some of the city’s most dangerous intersections for car and pedestrian crashes. Broadway has tremendous potential for revitalization and economic development. My team envisions a Broadway – the same road Muhammad Ali was paraded down as champion and as icon – that is safer, more vibrant, and full of life along every neighborhood that touches it.”

“Broadway has a large footprint and a long history,” said District 4 Councilwoman Barbara Sexton Smith. “Everyone should feel safe on Broadway from Shawnee Park to the Highlands. I look forward to working together to build a better Broadway, one that is safer, more connected and open for economic development from end to end. Together we can do this.”

What we know today as Broadway was constructed in 1832 and was then named Dunkirk Road. By 1879, the road was 120-feet wide and stretched from the Ohio River to Baxter Avenue. The creation of Shawnee Park has since shortened the road in length. Over the next several decades, a boom in downtown made Broadway a focal point of the central business district. A streetcar line served the entire corridor from 1940 until 1966. It has long served as one of Louisville’s most iconic roadways, connecting Louisville’s eastern and western urban neighborhoods.

Over the past several decades, Broadway has evolved into an auto-centric corridor that is littered with surface parking lots and an under-performing built environment. The current roadway design prioritizes automobiles, promotes high vehicular travel speeds, and has led to unsafe conditions for all users, such as the high pedestrian crash rates near Jefferson Community Technical College and along the western parts of the corridor.

Broadway also provides critical transit access for the Transit Authority of River City (TARC). The #4, #18, and #23 TARC bus routes all offer frequent service along Broadway and give key connections to provide links to other routes for transfers. These three routes account for more than 5 million trips per year, which is about 40 percent of TARC’s ridership.

Despite its current insufficiencies, Broadway is beginning to show signs of revitalization. Numerous planning efforts and development projects that will directly impact the area are completed or are underway, and amplify the need to holistically plan for the corridor. These projects include two multifamily apartment complexes between Barret and Baxter avenues, the Paristown arts and entertainment district, Reimagine 9th Street, Dixie Highway Bus Rapid Transit, the 18th Street realignment, the Republic Bank Foundation YMCA, and the Passport Health Plan campus.

A consultant for the master plan will be selected in early 2019 and community engagement – which will occur in many forms and will involve residents, organizations and venues throughout the entire corridor – will take place through spring and summer 2019. A draft plan is expected to be available for public review in fall 2019, and a final document should be complete in spring 2020.

Transit Authority of River CityHelping transit employees identify and report human trafficking when they encounter it on the streets of the Greater Louisville area is the goal of a new training effort announced Thursday by Attorney General Andy Beshear.

At Union Station, Beshear and J. Barry Barker, the Transit Authority of River City (TARC) executive director, rolled out human trafficking awareness training and reporting protocols that focus on the specific needs of nearly 400 TARC managers, dispatchers and bus drivers.

Beshear said trafficking occurs in countless locations in every community in this state, including at bus terminals where traffickers try to recruit victims and on busses where victims are transported.

“TARC employees are among those who serve as the eyes and ears of our community, and this training will help ensure they are in a better position to spot potential human trafficking situations and safely assist victims,” Beshear said. “Our partnership with TARC presents a momentous opportunity to confront human trafficking throughout Greater Louisville.”

Beshear said TARC will be a strong partner to help fight one of the nation’s fasting growing crimes because it has more than 15 million customers on 41 routes in five counties in Kentucky and southern Indiana.

“TARC is proud to partner with the Attorney General to bring awareness to and support their efforts in leading the fight against human trafficking,” Barker said. “As an agency that interacts with the public every day, the training provided by the Attorney General’s office positions us to be of great service in recognizing and reporting signs of trafficking in our region.”

Beshear’s Office of Child Abuse and Human Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution is prepared to train TARC employees beginning Oct. 29.

The training includes guidance on the signs of human trafficking, questions to ask suspected victims and reporting protocols. Awareness signage, including window clings for over 200 buses, a wallet card for each driver and brochures will be distributed at the training thanks to Truckers Against Trafficking (TAT) Busing on the Lookout program.

Beshear said he is thankful for the support of Truckers Against Trafficking, an organization that his office worked with to train Kentucky commercial drivers and truck-stop employees on how to recognize and report human trafficking.

Beshear also recognized Maryhurst on Thursday, a nonprofit agency that helps survivors of abuse and young women who are vulnerable to human trafficking, for hosting human trafficking training for their staff and leadership.

“Even though trafficking can be difficult to see, there are clear warning signs that anyone can spot with the right training,” said Judy Lambeth, president and chief executive officer of Maryhurst. “The girls who come to us have terribly upsetting stories full of pain and trauma, most often inflicted in secret. We’re supportive of the TARC program because it will empower our system to better expose – and ultimately remedy – situations where trafficking is common.”

Other public and private agencies including all Kentucky Transportation Cabinet highway incident safety professionals, the Kentucky Baptist Convention, hotel and hospitality industry employees, firefighters, EMTs and paramedics have joined Beshear’s fight against trafficking, allowing the office to train more than 5,000 individuals statewide.

Thursday’s announcement is the latest in a string of moves Beshear has taken to turn his office into the leading state agency fighting human trafficking – a crime that often targets children for sex or labor services.

Upon taking office in 2016, Beshear teamed up with Catholic Charities of Louisville to secure a three-year, $1.5 million federal grant to help train law enforcement, increase victim services and hire the state’s first full-time human trafficking investigator.

Beshear’s office currently has 15 open human trafficking cases, and over the course of 2018 the office has been involved in 31 arrests or citations involving the crime. In February, the office secured a 20-year sentence against former Campbell County District Judge Timothy Nolan on numerous felony charges, including human trafficking of adults and minors.

Last month, Beshear joined Rep. Dennis Keene, of Wilder, to announce legislation that would grant the Office of the Attorney General the ability to investigate crimes, like human trafficking that can occur across multiple jurisdictions.

If a human trafficking victim is in immediate danger dial 911 and report suspected human trafficking of a child to 877-KYSAFE1. Victims of human trafficking may call or text the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.

Transit Authority of River Cityis putting WiFi in motion to make it more convenient to ride, and because internet access is a growing necessity for connecting people, and accessing opportunities and information,” said J. Barry Barker, executive director of TARC.

TARC, with a fleet of 227 buses, already provides WiFi on 156 buses and work is underway to enable WiFi on the remaining 71 buses, Barker said.

Barker was joined by Mayor Greg Fischer and Jake Sion, of Montreal, chief operating officer for a mobile app that tracks buses in real time, in announcing the upgrades at a news conference at Union Station, TARC’s headquarters. Transit, free to download, has been a popular mobile app with TARC passengers.

“Louisville takes pride in our city’s innovative and entrepreneurial spirit — and it’s really on display here,” Mayor Fischer said. “WiFi on every TARC bus opens up new possibilities for passengers to work, study or be entertained while getting from place to place.”

WiFi on all buses
TARC first made WiFi available in 2013 on 21 eTran commuter coaches that cross the river and travel on some express routes, and added WiFi to more buses as funding allowed.

Recent contract options with Verizon resulted in significant savings for onboard Wi-Fi, reducing the cost for unlimited data to a fixed amount of about $40 a month per bus. TARC also receives an annual contribution covering WiFi on 55 buses from Lamar, TARC’s bus advertising partner.

“The WiFi has been popular from the start based on data use,” Barker said, and a growing number of passengers have mobile phones with internet access.  A survey last year of TARC local and express route passengers showed 80 percent of passengers have mobile devices with internet access, 20 percent more than three years ago.

“With buses as WiFi hot spots, passengers can now check schedules and bus arrival times, check email, do some work or homework while on the go using TARC WiFi,” Barker said.

To connect to TARC WiFi on buses, passengers using mobile devices need to make sure WiFi is turned on, and to tap “RideTARC” as their WiFi option.


Transit

Transit, which has been endorsed by transit agencies in over a dozen cities including Boston and Dayton, integrates real-time transit information for more than 400 public transportation systems around the world. In the past 18 months, the app has been downloaded in Louisville more than 18,000 times, Sion said. More than 1,500 riders are using the app on an average weekday, analytics show, he said.

“Relative to TARC’s ridership, our usage in Louisville is among the highest across the US, and without any heavy promotion to date. TARC riders have really embraced our app,” he said.

TARC real-time bus information has been available on Transit since 2015 when TARC made its real-time data feed available to app developers.

Barker said TARC wants to make even more passengers aware of the app because “we’ve heard from passengers that they like it, and it provides an option for online trip planning.”

Transit was updated this week to include information about TARC service changes for the Thunder Over Louisville fireworks on Saturday.

When opening the app, it automatically shows you nearby bus lines and departure times in big text and bright colors. Users can track TARC buses on a map, plan trips from start to finish, set alarms reminding them when to leave home to catch the next bus, and have an alert sound when their stop is approaching. Transit also integrates Uber and starting next month, when Louisville Metro launches its bike share program, LouVelo, the app will allow users to locate bike share stations and buy bike share passes.

Passengers, including Mary Lou Ferrell who rides TARC to and from the Highlands and the University of Louisville’s Belknap campus, have praised the app. “It makes riding TARC so much better,” she wrote on Facebook.

Coalition for the HomelessLouisville’s homeless population will have an opportunity to access services, information and assistance in a one-stop environment at the 2016 Project Homeless Connect/VA Stand Down, on Wednesday, October 5. Resources available at the event will include food, clothing, medical evaluations, help with employment, education and benefit services and many other forms of assistance.

The event takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. (entry doors will close at 1 p.m.) at The Salvation Army (Old Male High School) campus located at 911 S. Brook St. in Louisville. Several TARC buses will provide access throughout the day from emergency shelters to the event site. The event is coordinated by the Robley Rex Veterans Affairs Medical Center (VAMC), Louisville Metro Community Services, Coalition for the Homeless and other community partners including The Salvation Army.

The Project Homeless Connect/VA Stand Down (PHC/Stand Down) is an annual one-day community outreach project where representatives from community service organizations come together to address the collective needs of the homeless during a single visit. This event is made possible by the work of hundreds of volunteers and resources from the United States Veteran Association (U.S.V.A.), Kentucky Department of Veterans Affairs, Louisville Metro Government and Louisville Metro Council.

The latest numbers from the 2015 Homeless Census indicate 6,737 individuals were homeless at some point in Louisville last year — either on the streets, in homeless shelters or accessing services through Louisville’s homeless service providers. A variety of factors can lead to homelessness and often these individuals may be victims of domestic violence, disabled, veterans or senior citizens.

At last year’s event approximately 560 persons participated receiving a variety of individual services including State of KY ID cards, flu shots and other medical exams and services, housing linkages, mainstream benefit access (SSI/SSDI), clothing, food and general case management services. The “Stand Down” event, named for the military concept of renewal, personal care, etc., is replicated from a national service delivery model that has proven to be crucial in eliminating barriers to housing, employment, education and the myriad of other factors that contribute to long-term homelessness.

“This is a vital event for our community because it allows our service providers to connect much-needed resources to our homeless residents”, stated Mayor Greg Fischer.  “It also allows us a great opportunity to measure the needs of our homeless population so that we can come together to be more responsive”.

As an added feature at this year’s event, a number of University of Louisville student-athletes will be available to meet attendees of PHC/Stand Down thanks to CardsCARE, U of L Athletic’s Community Outreach Program.

Also offered will be a foot-washing service provided by community volunteers and the Coalition for the Homeless. Many individuals experiencing homelessness have issues with their feet due to diabetes, frostbite and other exposure issues. Every participant at Project Homeless Connect/Stand Down will be invited to soak their feet and have them examined by medical volunteers. Members of Louisville Metro RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) have also led a sock and towel drive so that each participant can leave with new socks and healthier, cleaner feet.

For more information about the Homeless Connect event contact:
Jamie Watts – Louisville VAMC Homeless Supervisory Coordinator at 502-287-4176
Eric Friedlander – Louisville Metro Community Services at 502-574-3926
Natalie Harris – Coalition for the Homeless at 502-636-9550

Councilman Dan Johnson (D-21) has been reappointed to the National League of Cities (NLC) 2016 Transportation Infrastructure & Services committee.

This committee has the lead responsibility for developing NLC federal policy positions on issues involving transportation, including planning, funding, safety and security of public transit, streets and highways, aviation, railroads and ports.

The appointment was announced by NLC President Melodee Colbert-Kean, councilmember, Joplin, Mo.

 “For many of our cities across our country, especially here in Louisville, repair, and modernization of our nation’s infrastructure is a number one priority,” says Johnson.  “As a member of this committee, I believe it is crucial that we keep Congress focused on our transportation needs.  Investment in our infrastructure is an investment in our future and our economy.”

As a member of the committee, Councilman Johnson will play a key role in shaping NLC’s policy positions and advocate on behalf of America’s cities and towns before Congress, with the Administration and at home.

He has served as a member of the committee since 2009 and his interests have included public transportation, bridges, Federal airport regulations, infrastructure building, and emphasizing local control in decision-making.  On the Metro Council, Johnson has previously served as chair of the Public Works Committee and has been assigned to the committee six times during his tenure.

Councilman Johnson has long made infrastructure a priority in District 21 and looks forward to learning more about the latest trends in order to better serve his constituents.  Councilman Johnson has also been an advocate for the possibility of a light rail system in Louisville and looks forward to working with his NLC colleagues to further explore the potential.

For more information on the NLC’s Transportation and Infrastructure Services Committee, visit

http://www.nlc.org/influence-federal-policy/policy-committees/transportation-and-infrastructure-services

The National League of Cities (NLC) is dedicated to helping city leaders build better communities.  NLC is a resource and advocate for 19,000 cities, towns, and villages, representing more than 218 million Americans.

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