Governor Steve Beshear today ceremonially presented $2.7 million in funding for another section of Lexington’s long-awaited urban park known as Town Branch Commons.
The project is to include creation of a badly needed pedestrian crossing, with signal, on heavily traveled Vine Street in the vicinity of the central transit center for Lextran, the public transportation system for Lexington.
“The Town Branch Commons project is going to yield enormous benefits to the thousands upon thousands of people who live, work, play and visit downtown Lexington,” Gov. Beshear said. “But one of its greatest benefits will be a major safety improvement for pedestrians who don’t currently have a protected way to get across Vine Street to access the Lextran transit center and the public transportation services they rely on.
“It’s an everyday sight – and too often a harrowing sight – to see pedestrians walking between moving cars to get across Vine Street and finally climbing over a barrier divider to get into the transit center. We can do better than that – and we will,” Gov. Beshear said.
The new funding, from the federal Transportation Alternatives Program, is for design and construction of the section of Town Branch Trail Corridor running along Vine Street between Limestone and Quality streets.
In addition to a signalized pedestrian crossing, the project area will have lighting upgrades and realigned bus bays in the transit center. The signal for the pedestrian crossing will include a phase to allow buses to safely exit the transit center.
The project area also will have green areas for storm water infiltration and separate bicycle lanes on Water Street, a narrow street between and parallel to Vine and Main streets. The bike lanes will help connect the Rose Street and Old Vine Street bikeway and will make a bike connection to the University of Kentucky campus at Limestone and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The university’s campus master plan specifically recommends a connection to the Town Branch Trail to encourage more faculty and students to use alternative transportation.
The federal grant is for $2,730,215. The Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government is providing matching funds of $682,554.
“Gov. Beshear has made great things happen in Lexington during his time in office,” Lexington Mayor Jim Gray said. “Town Branch Commons will be a ribbon of Bluegrass running through our downtown. It will bring new opportunities for economic development, healthy exercise and transportation alternatives, including LexTran, bike and pedestrian improvements.”
Lextran General Manager Carrie Butler welcomed the Governor’s announcement.
“We are excited for the opportunity to improve the experience of Lextran passengers through needed pedestrian and bicycle improvements at our Transit Center, upgrading connectivity to our downtown,” Butler said.
Jeff Fugate, president of the Lexington Downtown Development Authority, said Town Branch Commons is “an idea whose time has come … a park running through the heart of Lexington featuring trails and water. Great cities have great parks. Lexington should be no exception.”
The Town Branch Commons Corridor is a greenway network and linear park that will thread through Lexington, promoting alternative transportation by attracting droves of runners, walkers and bicyclists. Much of the trail derives its name from the Town Branch of Elkhorn Creek, the historic stream along which Lexington was settled in 1775.