Drivers and pedestrians will notice major changes to Lexington's Woodland Triangle in the coming weeks.
A construction project by Lexington city government broke ground in the area Monday, aiming to increase pedestrian safety where High and Maxwell streets and Kentucky Avenue converge.
The neighborhood surrounding the pie-shaped triangle is home to a variety of small businesses and Woodland Park, one of Lexington's oldest and most iconic parks. The area often is heavily congested, with an eclectic mix of drivers, cyclists, walkers, runners and skateboarders.
The project is an attempt to remedy the frequent traffic jams in the area by installing three new medians, updating crosswalk stripings and improving existing sidewalks, according to Sally Lambert-Warfield, legislative aide to 3rd District councilwoman Diane Lawless.
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Brenna Angel, spokeswoman for Mayor Jim Gray, said the project will include extending bike-lane striping into the triangle, ending where the road narrows on High Street.
The project, which is "way ahead of schedule" according to LFUCG project manager George Milligan, will be completed in time for the Woodland Arts Fair, Aug. 16 and 17.
The project will prevent drivers from being able to take Kentucky Avenue across High and Maxwell streets.
Motorists driving down Kentucky Avenue toward Euclid Avenue have been able to go straight across High and Maxwell streets, putting pedestrians and other motorists at risk. Now they will have to turn right onto High Street toward downtown.
Inbound motorists on East High Street will no longer be allowed to turn left onto Kentucky Avenue toward Euclid.
Milligan said the changes will ease the flow of traffic.
"I think it will make things much smoother," Milligan said. "It will take a little time to get used to. Everyone gets in their driving habits, and they're comfortable with them. We hope to get in and out of here with a minimal amount of disruption, and hope to get things back to normal as soon as possible."
Milligan said about 900 feet of new curb and sidewalk, and three traffic islands, will be added.
Lambert-Warfield said the project was stalled for a while because Columbia Gas of Kentucky was replacing lines in the area.
"It's been something that's been in the works for quite a while," she said. "It's been talked about and we have had open public meetings about it to get neighborhood input. It's a really great example of residences and businesses getting improved pedestrian safety and it's something that's going to be really good for the area."
Construction will cost $218,000, with financing coming from a mix of state funds and the city's road resurfacing budget, Angel said.
Andrew Lanier, manager of Scheller's Fitness on Woodland Avenue, said the project is an overdue necessity for the safety of pedestrians and cyclists.
"People are always coming across, and traffic goes way over the posted speed limits," Lanier said. "Anything they can do to make that corner safer is good."