Tuesday June 8, 2010
The road under the Second Street Bridge will be transformed into a plaza — filled with plantings, seats and pedestrian spaces — that will host festivals and celebrations and will be an inviting promenade for the new KFC YUM! Center, Gov. Steve Beshear and Mayor Jerry Abramson announced today.
The governor and mayor joined members of the Louisville Arena Authority in breaking ground on the $3 million project, funded by the city and state.
“This area was dark and uninviting for pedestrians, cyclists and automobile traffic — but that’s about to change,” Beshear said.
The project involves a three-block area of Second Street, directly underneath the Clark Memorial Bridge, from Main Street to River Road.
The street, currently one way, will be converted to two-way to better accommodate traffic. The project also includes wide sidewalks, large enough to accommodate pedestrians walking into arena events, and places for vendors and musicians and other performers to entertain crowds. Special lighting under the bridge will highlight the span’s iron architecture.
The project was designed by CARMAN, a Lexington-based landscape architecture firm that also has an office in downtown Louisville. The Downtown Development Corporation, which prepared the initial grant application for Louisville Metro and oversaw the design process, is managing the construction.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet provided $2.4 million for the project, and Louisville Metro Government provided $600,000.
“This project allows for the development of a significant pedestrian area in the heart of an emerging center of economic and tourist activity,” said Jim Host, Chairman of the Louisville Arena Authority.
Prior to work beginning on the project, Second Street was a one-way street located almost entirely underneath the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge. The narrow street has handled more than 900 cars an hour during peak drive times.
“The KFC Yum! Center’s connection to the riverfront is paramount,” Abramson said. “The relationship had been severed due to the River Road traffic and Second Street’s inhospitable walking environment, but this plan ensures good, safe connections.”
The project will be complete this summer — in time for the 10/10/10 opening of the arena.
“Excellent planning that includes coordination between the public and private elements only enhances the overall quality and appeal of the area,” said Jim Allen, board chairman for Downtown Development Corporation. “In turn, this leads to more investment, more jobs and more activity downtown. This is an exciting project that is already producing results in the form of attracting new businesses to Washington Street. Without question, it will add a valuable dimension to the area.”