More than $25 million will be needed to make key improvements to heavily traveled Versailles Road, a study released Tuesday showed.
The state-owned road is one of Lexington's busiest. Approximately 25,000 cars a day travel the road that connects downtown to the Bluegrass Parkway. The study for the city of Lexington focused primarily on the part inside New Circle Road.
It also has one of the highest bus riderships of all Lextran routes.
Although well-used, Versailles Road is not friendly to pedestrians or bicyclists. As a major corridor and entrance to the city, it also isn't very appealing, said Tom Hatfield of EA Partners, one of the authors of the study.
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Hatfield presented the findings of the study at the council's Planning and Public Works Committee meeting.
Sidewalks are rare, and there is little or no landscaping in the section between Oliver Lewis Way and New Circle Road.
Councilwoman Peggy Henson, whose district includes Versailles Road, has pushed for improvements for years.
Although there have been smaller projects in recent years, more needs to be done "to improve the appearance of the corridor and improve pedestrian access," Henson said.
The plan includes widening sections to add more sidewalks, medians and bike lanes, and places for more public art.
Other parts of the plan include adding designs to the centers of key intersections, said John Carman of Carman, a landscaping and engineering firm.
The $150,000 study, prepared by EA Partners and Carman, looked at a 21/2-mile stretch from Parkers Mill Road to Oliver Lewis Way. It took a little more than six months to complete, Hatfield said.
Engineers for the project said the proposed $25.5 million cost could be broken into four phases. Versailles is a state-owned and state-maintained road. That means the city would have to get the project into the state's road plan, which sets funding and priorities for state roads. Other state and federal grant funding could be available, engineers said.
City engineers said the state had input in the study, and state officials were aware of the plan.
Many council members expressed support for the improvements during Tuesday's meeting. No vote was taken, but Henson said she would return to the council with a proposal.
"I will be moving forward to try to get funding for this project," she said. The first step will probably be a council resolution encouraging the state to finance the project, she said.