Local News Noise & Notes Politics

Owen Alarmed by City Changes to Garbage Collection

Questioning if suburban residents are being forced to sacrifice, Louisville Metro Councilman Tom Owen, D-8, criticized Mayor Greg Fischer’s decision to change garbage, recycling and yard waste collection schedules in the last two weeks.

Residents living in the Urban Services District began seeing alterations to their scheduled garbage collection days on Monday for cost-saving measures. The public works department eliminated the January 2 collection instead of following the traditional practice of bumping collections one day forward after holidays to save an estimated $25,000 in overtime expenses.

The result is some citizens in the old city limits haven’t had their garbage collected since December 26.

Owen says he is concerned residents can’t follow all the cancellations and changes quickly enough to prevent garbage from piling up.

“The whole plan with double-barrel cancellations and route changes was ill-conceived. I understand the need for cost savings but this is just too much. Mayor Fischer should have consulted council members who represent residents who pay those extra taxes for urban services including garbage, recycling and yard waste collection,” he says.

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New Garbage Collection Routes Begin Monday

Louisville Metro Public Works is reminding citizens living in the Urban Services District about new garbage, recycling and yard waste collection routes that begin Monday.

Residents living in the old city limits received a mailer from the department last month detailing changes to their scheduled garbage collection days for 2012. The changes affect more than 77,000 households and small businesses.

Public works spokeswoman Lindsay English says residents will need to place their trash, recycling and yard waste at their normal collection site on the specific days of the week listed on the mailer.

“The real thing that will affect people are the days of the week they set out their items for collection. So either your recycling day or garbage pickup day, those may have changed for some folks within the Urban Services District,” she says.

Local News Politics

Two-Way Street Conversion in Old Louisville Set

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.

Local News Politics

Public Works Audit Emphasizes Safety, Manager Changes

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer spoke to hundreds of Metro Public Works and Assets employees Thursday morning to announce the results of the agency’s long-awaited audit. The report emphasizes employee safety and shuffling managers to help improve efficiency and city services.

“Public Works is a quality organization with dedicated employees who keep our city running,” Fischer said in a news release. “The review will help us fine-tune the agency, increase efficiency and make employee-safety a top priority.”

The six month study was commissioned by Fischer in December 2010 and was conducted by a five member group led by Dave Vogel, vice president of the Louisville Water Company. It focused heavily on worker safety and listed several ways to reduce workplace accidents.

Among those recommendations is the safety organization reporting directly to the head of the agency and that the agency perform injury investigations with all employees.

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Officials Announce Traffic Light Synchronization Plan

Louisville Metro Government officials have announced plans to synchronize 350 traffic lights along the four major suburban roads, allowing them to be easily programmed to accomodate rush hour traffic and special events. Shively traffic

Mayor Jerry Abramson says $7 million in local, state and federal funds will be used for the project, in which the signals will be controlled from a central nerve center at City Hall that already handles downtown traffic.

“First along Dixie (Highway) and Shelbyville Road, those will be our first two out of the box. Then Hurstbourne Lane and Preston Highway. The four were selected by traffic engineers based on the focus of congestion,” Abramson said.

Public works director Ted Pullen says many of the signals are currently timed based on traffic patterns but are not communicated to a central system.

The first lights are scheduled to be in the system by the end of next year.