The last block of West Fourth Street is expected to be converted to a two-way street this summer as part of a state highway project to make improvements to Newtown Pike near Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and align Georgetown Street with Fourth Street.
"It would be best if the city did go ahead and convert Fourth Street," said James Ballinger, chief engineer for District 7 of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. "We feel two-way is the safest. We would like to go ahead with that design."
Plans are already being made for the change, said Kevin Wente, administrative officer for the city's Department of Environmental Quality and Public Works. The conversion should be finished by early fall, he said, adding: "It only made sense for us to make our part of Fourth Street two-way to accommodate the extra vehicle and pedestrian traffic going to campus."
Fourth Street was a topic of discussion Wednesday when a consultant gave preliminary findings about the impact of converting several one-way streets in the area north of Main Street to a policy advisory committee of downtown stakeholders and city council members.
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Wednesday's meeting was a follow-up to one on Tuesday when Tom Creasey, a civil engineer and project manager with Stantec consulting engineers, answered questions from Urban County Council members about a preliminary plan to convert four pairs of one-way streets to two-way in downtown Lexington.
"What we have concluded, in the north area analysis, is there would be no major obstacles associated with converting to two-way," Creasey said on Wednesday.
Stantec engineers divided the downtown into thirds — the area north of Main Street, the downtown core of Main and Vine, and a southern area including High and Maxwell streets. The north portion involves North Limestone, North Upper, Second and Short streets, and Third and Fourth streets.
Since Stantec received the contract in May to do a two-way traffic study, engineers have collected data and used computerized traffic modeling to evaluate the impact of two-way conversions on neighborhoods, downtown and other streets as far away as New Circle Road.
Now begins a series of meetings to get input from residents, business owners, school personnel, other stakeholders and the public at large.
Two locations where traffic patterns will have to be worked out in detail are West Short Street where school buses unload children going to Lexington Children's Theatre, the Explorium and the Lexington Opera House. The other is on North Limestone in front of Lexington Traditional Magnet School where cars and buses pick up and drop off students.
The consultants will meet with Lexington Children's Theatre staff, the Explorium, the Opera House, Lexington Traditional Magnet School and other stakeholders.