Residents in parts of the Old Louisville neighborhood are being asked to be patient as the city prepares to convert two major thoroughfares into two-way streets.
In April, Councilman David James, D-6, introduced an ordinance converting portions of First and Brooks streets into two-way strips. The Louisville Metro Department of Public Works and Assets is now moving forward with the change, which is scheduled to take place over the weekend of July 29.
“Studies show that two-way streets really provide energy for a neighborhood and for people being connected to one another and slowing down traffic. It’s a public safety issue, it’s a neighborhood issue and adds continuity towards the neighborhoods. And it’s something that’s very important,” he says.
Several area business owners in the district were supportive of the new traffic plan and had pushed the change for almost a decade, but concerns were raised by a handful of residents and Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, D-5, because the bill was passed without following public works policy.
In most cases, changing a city street name or traffic pattern requires obtaining signatures from 66 percent of affected residents. However, James says converting the streets was a public safety matter that trumped the department’s policy for traffic plan changes.
“Public safety is not a matter of popular opinion and so in order to make sure that people are safe I’m not so much concerned that we have to have 66 percent of the population saying they want to be safe,” says James. “That’s my responsibility.”
The councilman will be going door-to-door to make sure residents are aware of the upcoming change and to make any necessary adjustments. City officials say the process is expected to be completed within less than a day and will take place along both thoroughfares bounded from College to Hill Street, where crews will also change all overhead signs, intersection signs and signals for two-way traffic.