A decade in the making, the center of Fairdale is finally getting a focal point. By August 2017, the the dog-leg intersection of West Manslick Road, Mount Holly Road, Mitchell Hill Road, and Fairdale Road will be remade into a large roundabout that’s hoped will increase safety, create a sense of place, and improve traffic flow.
Today, Governor Steve Beshear announced that the $2.9 million contract for the road project was awarded to low-bidder Flynn Brothers Contracting, according to a press release.
BTM Engineering designed the project and it’s being managed by Metro Louisville Public Works and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. Approximately $5.5 million was allocated for the project in the 2014–2015 budgets to cover land acquisition and utilities, according to a February report in the Courier-Journal.
If you were to walk by today, you’d see a hodge podge of suburban uses set amidst an incomplete sidewalk network. A tangle of power lines follows the two-lane roads in the area with a flashing light controlling the two T-shaped intersections. At the center of everything is a scant green space called the Fairdale Mini Park and outfitted with a pair of gazebos next to an abandoned gas station.
The roundabout will unite the four streets into a single point of slow-moving traffic rotating around a large central green. Crosswalks with pedestrian refuges ease crossing for those walking around the Village Center district or to a new library branch completed a couple years ago a block north. The above ground utilities will disappear underground, quickly improving the aesthetics of the heart of Fairdale. The gazebo would be relocated to a new green space north of the roundabout along with a new information center.
In November 2006, the neighborhood adopted the Fairdale Neighborhood Plan, calling for an expanded Village Center to promote compact, walkable development around the new streetscape. According to the plan:
The Village Center is the focal point of the community and contains a diversity of uses that serve the community. Many land uses that are characteristic of a Village Center are located in this area and should be added to this district. The community serving uses within the village center include schools, the library, parks, the Playtorium, a district police station, the fire department, retail business, medical offices and the post office. There is undeveloped land in the area that may be suitable for expansion of the village center for additional residential or office development. The commercial area is suitable for redevelopment as the residential densities grow and demand for additional commercial services increases. Added residential development will further enhance the Village Center, encouraging businesses to expand and may draw additional businesses to the area.
The Village Center Form District in the Louisville Land Development Code calls for a human-scale design for architecture, streets, and walking distances between uses. “Environments scaled to the human body are visually interesting, comfortable rather than overwhelming, and help create a sense of safety and security,” the neighborhood plan reads. “Village design by definition employs compact, higher-density approaches to land use. When used appropriately, these methods can mitigate the negative environmental and social impacts such as high levels of energy usage, increased air and water pollution, inefficient use of infrastructure and public funding, and excessive depletion of environmental assets.”
Among the goals of the neighborhood plan are to expand the pedestrian sidewalk network. “The lack of a continuous network of sidewalks and bike paths within the village center forces residents to use their cars for even the shortest trips and errands, further exacerbating existing traffic problems,” the plan reads.
Fairdale has been positioning itself as the “Gateway to the Forest,” referencing the nearby 6,500-acre Jefferson Memorial Forest, billed as the largest such municipal forest in the country. We hope the neighborhood follows through on the roundabout improvements to further unite the Village Center and the Forest, promoting active lifestyles that will further ease congestion, improve health, and add to recreational opportunities.
“This is a huge step in promoting future economic development in the Fairdale area of District 13, which is the gateway to the Jefferson Memorial Forest,” District 13 Metro Councilwoman Vicki Aubrey Welch said in a statement.
Imagine one day biking through the Fairdale Village Center, which will eventually become a trailhead for the Louisville Loop system. New street trees and compact development make you feel like you’re actually in a real place and people are walking around or sitting in the park. You’ve just come from Iroquois Park and you’re on your way south to the Jefferson Forest. It’s a good day in the neighborhood.