A controversial road swap between the city of Lexington and the state got final approval from the city council Thursday night, clearing the way to possibly demolish the Jefferson Street bridge and expand the Lexington Convention Center.
A final vote on the resolution approving the road swap has been delayed several times.
Lexington-Fayette Urban County Councilman Richard Moloney was the only council member to vote against the resolution.
As part of the swap, the city will assume control of the Jefferson Street bridge, which it plans to tear down to make room for an expanded convention center and the proposed 10-acre Town Branch Commons park.
In addition to the Jefferson Street bridge, the city will assume control of the following sections of state roads:
▪ Manchester Street between Oliver Lewis Way and Jefferson Street.
▪ South Upper between Bolivar and South Limestone.
▪ Tates Creek between Euclid Avenue and New Circle Road.
▪ Euclid/Avenue of Champions from Tates Creek to South Limestone.
▪ Forbes Road from Versailles Road to Main Street.
▪ West High and West Maxwell streets from Oliver Lewis Way to South Broadway.
In exchange the state will get Citation Boulevard between Leestown Road and Newtown Pike and nearly 2 miles of Virginia Avenue from South Limestone to South Broadway.
Elders with Main Street Baptist Church raised concerns in September about tearing down the Jefferson Street bridge and the loss of access to a parking lot under the bridge that its congregation has used for decades. Those concerns prompted the Council to delay voting on the resolution.
The city worked with Main Street Baptist on an alternative plan that would reconfigure parking on the church’s property, which is on either side of the Jefferson Street bridge on Main Street. In addition, the city proposed adding metered parking on what is now the Main Street side of the Jefferson Street bridge. Those metered spaces would be reserved for the church on Sunday morning and Tuesday nights. The parking would be available to the public at other times.
Officials with Main Street Baptist Church have said they still need more parking spaces than the 92 spaces the city had proposed. Church officials are also working with the Lexington Center Corporation to see if the church could use the 300-space parking garage that is part of the convention center expansion. Lexington Center Corporation oversees Rupp Arena and the convention center.
Meanwhile, residents of Cooper Drive told the council during a Nov. 9 meeting they didn’t want the city to give the road to the state. The council and city agreed during a Tuesday council work session to remove Cooper Drive from the road swap. Cooper Drive will remain a city street, but that meant the city had to agree to take control of more lane miles on Tates Creek Road. The city will now be responsible for 8.35 miles of Tates Creek from Euclid to New Circle Road.
It’s not clear how soon the Jefferson Street bridge will be torn down. Details and cost estimates of the proposed convention center expansion are still being worked out. It’s possible the bridge may not need to come down for expansion of the convention center but it would have to be removed to make room for the proposed park.