The city wants public input – especially from motorists – on Walk/Bike Frankfort’s proposal to add bike lanes to Louisville Road hill.
The proposal submitted to the City Commission would alter the hill from two upward lanes and one downward lane to one upward and one downward lane with bike lanes. It would create lanes from the beginning of Louisville Road in South Frankfort – at the intersection of Taylor Avenue and West Second Street, near Second Street School – to Lafayette Drive, said Public Works Director Jeff Hackbart.
The uphill side would have a separate bike lane, and the downhill side, where bikes can better keep pace with traffic, would feature a wide shared-use lane for cars and bicycles.
Hackbart said there are possible advantages to keeping the road as is, and that’s why they want to hear from motorists.
The two current uphill lanes serve as an evacuation route, and cars can move to the other lane in case a stalled vehicle or falling rocks – common along the stretch of road – have blocked one lane, he said.
Creating bike lanes would cost virtually nothing because the road must be repaved and restriped anyway due to the Sewer Department’s installation of a 48-inch stormwater pipe, said Sewer Director Bill Scalf. The hill section of Louisville Road will be closed starting Monday, and the installation will take up to 10 weeks, Scalf said.
“A lot of that is weather dependent,” he said, adding that good weather could mean completion in 6-8 weeks.
Taylor Avenue, where the Sewer Department is currently working, will reopen next week. It must finish before Louisville Road can be closed.
Brent Sweger, president of Walk/Bike Frankfort, said his group is trying to take advantage of necessary construction to improve the ability of residents to cross the city without cars.
“We’re trying to find a project that’s already going on and trying to get some changes done with that project,” Sweger said.
Hackbart is planning to request residents’ input at an Oct. 15 City Commission work session at 12:30 p.m. That way, the commission could vote the following week to ask the state for permission to alter the road. Louisville Road is part of U.S. 60, so the decision is ultimately the state’s call, Hackbart said.
The new bike lanes would basically connect to those already on West Second Street, and would fit into Walk/Bike Frankfort’s effort to eventually create bike lanes along much of U.S. 60 leading toward the city.
On West Second, the bike lanes were also painted on as part of an existing construction project at essentially no cost. But Hackbart said converting Louisville Hill from three lanes to two lanes would probably be more contentious, so the city is seeking input on this project.
The $1.18 million sewer project coinciding with the proposed bike lanes is mandated by the state. It will install a pipe that will divert stormwater into the river instead of the sewers, where it is unnecessarily treated and drives up sewer bills, Scalf said.
This project is part of a roughly 15-year effort, required by the state and begun in 2007, to divert more stormwater from city sewers, Scalf said. The total cost was estimated at $75 million in 2007, and monthly sewer bills have gone up about $2 – from $6.92 to $8.97 – since then to help pay for the work, he said.