Starting Monday, expect changes at Central Baptist Hospital on Nicholasville Road — not in medical treatment but in traffic patterns.
Central Baptist administrators suggest drivers going to the hospital and those traveling on Nicholasville Road watch the new traffic signs, be patient and, most of all, use free valet parking available to all visitors.
As the hospital begins the heavy construction phase of its $200 million expansion project, which will be completed in late 2014 or early 2015, traffic routes and practices are changing to spread traffic more evenly over the campus during construction.
The expansion will include a new cancer center; a women's center with labor and delivery, surgical and neonatal intensive care facilities; and amenities including a new cafeteria and chapel.
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For the duration of the build, however, the changes will include the loss of 500 parking spaces, from 2,900 when the project started to 2,400 now.
Central Baptist administrators and other traffic control officers, including Lexington police, will be on hand on Monday from 7 to 9 a.m. and 3 to 6 p.m. to direct incoming patients and visitors.
The extra directional help will continue as long as it takes to acclimate incoming and outgoing traffic to the changes, said Central Baptist spokeswoman Ruth Ann Childers.
Day surgery patients will be discharged onto an upgraded platform of the second floor of a parking garage around the new "loop road" that leads cars around the Alumni Drive side of the Central Baptist complex. The older of two parking garages on that side of the building will be in use; the newer one will open in 2012.
The traffic pattern for motorists leaving that garage also will change; vehicles will be directed onto the loop road. Motorists using the garage that's closer to the medical office building will continue to receive free valet parking as well.
"What we are going to try to do is to make sure that not everybody backs up onto Nicholasville Road," said Childers. " ... We'll do whatever we need to do to make it convenient and safe for our patients and staff."
On Monday evening, she said, motorists should be particularly patient as cars empty out of Central Baptist just as traffic flows downtown for the 7 p.m. University of Kentucky basketball game at Rupp Arena.
About 250 Central Baptist staff members already are shuttled to work from Lowry Lane, where they park. Starting in 2012, so will some employees of Congleton-Hacker, the construction company for the project.
The approach to the patient emergency entrance will be unchanged.
Twenty valets now park cars at Central Baptist, and the hospital will be adding more.
And the construction itself?
"We are within budget and on schedule," said Anthony Wickline, vice president and construction manager for Congleton-Hacker.