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February 21, 2014

What to do with Court Avenue?

Plan to close road for 3 weeks scrapped; new proposal coming

JEFFERSONVILLE — Work surrounding the under-construction downtown bridge is sure to make commuting more difficult for drivers who use Court Avenue.

The question is how to best handle traffic as construction intensifies.

Jacobs Engineering announced plans at the Jeffersonville Board of Public Works meeting Wednesday morning to close a portion of the road near surrounding Interstate 65 for three weeks, only to nix the proposal later that afternoon.

The plan — which would block off Court Avenue from exit 0 off of the Kennedy Bridge and extending to Ohio Avenue — was meant to be an alternative to an already-approved proposal that would close lanes on Court for six to 12 months.

Jacobs Engineering was shooting for a March 10 to 17 start date on the new plan, bumping up close to Thunder Over Louisville on April 13 for its completion as well as ongoing Derby season events. Concerns about this tight squeeze caused the engineers on the project to rethink their plan.

“They said their timeline was way too aggressive,” Jeffersonville City Engineering Coordinator Rick Lovan said. “It’s just off the table right now.”

Lovan said he wasn’t sure when Jacobs Engineering would have a new draft ready or when that plan for construction may go into effect.

The time frame was not the only concern expressed at the meeting. Members of the public works board tabled Wednesday morning’s proposal mainly because of concerns over the effects on local businesses.

“I understand you’ve got a huge project going on. I get that. There’s going to be inconveniences,” Mayor Mike Moore said. “But some of these places are locally owned, and they’re not big corporations. They’re living week by week.”

Traffic from the bridges would have been detoured down North Shore Avenue, along Market Street and back up Mulberry Street, had the three-week closure of Court Avenue gone into effect.

The original plan would have restricted the same section of Court Avenue to one-lane traffic flow each way and would impose a 20 mph speed limit over a six to 12 month period. Jacob Engineering’s intent in amending the proposal was to get work done as fast as possible.

At the meeting, Moore urged Jacobs Engineering to set up a meeting with representatives from restaurants and hotels whose businesses would have restricted access from the temporary Court Avenue closure before any proposals be passed.

“I don’t think we can exclude them from the communication of this,” Moore said. “... You’re talking a severe blow here to a community that makes its living off of traffic off 65.”

No businesses were contacted before Jacobs Engineering canceled their plans, and Lovan said they are holding off on doing so for the time being until new plans arise. The closure also would have restricted access for emergency vehicles, such as fire trucks and ambulances.

Lovan said Jacobs Engineering did not elaborate on any new ideas but did say they are working on drafting a new proposal.

The News and Tribune contacted Fabulous Liquor Land, a business adjacent to the proposed work, but a manager was not available for comment.

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