Downtown Streetscapes

The Problem: Louisville’s downtown streets are unnecessarily wide. Main St, Market St, and Jefferson St each are 60-feet wide and have four driving lanes — making the space inhospitable to pedestrians, outdoor dining, and other modes of transportation like bikes and e-scooters.

The Proposal: The City should implement traffic calming and multimodal measures to make the roads more welcoming to all users. East of the Central Business District, Louisville should convert these roads to two-way, reduce the number of driving lanes, and add two-way mobility lanes. Within the CBD, the streets should remain one-way in order to improve premium transit operations, traffic flow, and pedestrian safety. Sidewalks should be widened and bike/scooter lanes should be added to make the streetscape more vibrant and inviting.

East Main Street Redesign.
On E Main St, such a redesign could be done in two phases — an interim phase and a final redesign. In an interim phase, the goal would be on a quick implementation, testing the redesign concept, and limiting cost. In a final design, the project would involve adding concrete, changing road widths, and would require a significant funding source.

Interim Phase. Because traffic volumes are modest and the majority of TARC bus lines are on neighboring Market and Jefferson St, the number of driving lanes on Main St could be shrunk to two. (Of note: There are only two driving lanes on Liberty, Ali, and Chestnut, and these roads do just fine.) A two-way bike/scooter lane could be added to the south side of the street, in order to avoid north-bound turns into Butchertown, Waterfront Park, Slugger Field, and the 2nd Street Bridge. Planter boxes could be added to both sides of the street to beautify the streetscape and shrink the road width.

Final Redesign. In a finalized E Main St, the road would be converted to two-way, in order to improve driving access and further calm traffic. A concrete barrier would be added between the roadway and the bike/scooter lane. And the sidewalk would be expanded and trees would be planted in order to make the space more inviting to pedestrians and outdoor dining.

West Main Street Redesign.
A redesign of W Main St could follow a similar trajectory to that of E Main St, with an interim phase and a final redesign. Below are renderings of what each of these phases could look like.

Once again, the goal of the initial phase would be to implement a change quickly and cheaply, with an ability to make iterative changes for improvement. A final redesign would include beautification elements in order to make the space more active and welcoming.

In all, we believe that that there are nine street segments in downtown that could receive similar road diets and multimodal reconfigurations. These nine segments should be redesigned holistically in order to create a unified, vibrant, safer, more inviting downtown.

  1. E Main St
  2. W Main St
  3. E Market St
  4. W Market St
  5. E Jefferson St
  6. W Jefferson St
  7. Baxter Ave
  8. Chestnut Connector
  9. E Liberty St