LEXINGTON, Ky. (June 14, 2010) - A reconstructed South Limestone re-opened to traffic Friday, June 11, several weeks ahead of schedule.
"It looks great!" Mayor Jim Newberry said. "It connects campus to downtown, inviting pedestrians to stroll along and cyclists to enjoy a ride downtown."
University of Kentucky President Lee T. Todd Jr. joined the mayor and representatives of Limestone businesses to cut a ribbon, officially opening the street.
"I certainly applaud the efforts of the mayor, city officials, and everyone on the construction crews for all the hard work they put into this effort," Todd said. "A new and improved South Limestone will not only serve as a hub for activity in the Town & Gown corridor, but will provide a beautiful gateway for our faculty, staff, and students to make their way downtown."
The mayor invited the community to come to a street party from 4 p.m. to midnight June 19, to celebrate the completion of the project. "The South Limestone businesses are organizing a great evening, with bands, food and fun," Newberry said.
The South Limestone project, stretching from the Avenue of Champions to Vine Street, has remained consistently ahead of schedule since work began July 22, 2009. The official deadline for completion is July 1.
Newberry said the city has worked hard during the closure to protect the businesses along the street by providing nearby parking, maintaining pedestrian access and accommodating their needs whenever possible. "I greatly appreciate their patience and am confident that the new streetscape will support their businesses," the mayor said.
The reconstructed South Limestone features wide, ADA compliant sidewalks, a bike lane, underground utilities, replaced storm and sanitary sewers, attractive street lights, street trees and curbside rain gardens. The street will soon have new benches, identity markers, planters, trash-recycling receptacles and bicycle racks funded through a state transportation grant.
The streetscape project, which was long in the planning stages, supports the downtown area and campus corridors by encouraging downtown residents and workers to visit the University of Kentucky and to encourage students, faculty and staff from UK to come downtown. Ultimately, the project will extend to Transylvania University. A key step is making the city blocks that separate downtown and the two campuses more pedestrian and bike friendly.
The Limestone project is part of Phase 1 of the city's Streetscape Master Plan. Other parts of the plan are moving ahead rapidly downtown.
The Fifth Third Bank Pavilion opened in April in a redeveloped Cheapside Park, providing a new home for Farmers Market and an exciting new facility for all types of celebrations.
Sidewalk reconstruction is underway on Main Street between Broadway and Martin Luther King Boulevard and on Vine Street between Broadway and Limestone Street. The streetscapes will feature rain gardens, bike lanes, street trees and wider, ADA compliant sidewalks.
Work on the streetscape on East Main Street, between Martin Luther King Boulevard and Elm Tree Lane, will begin in the fall, after the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.