CLARKSVILLE — A recent study could mean significant changes to a major roadway connecting New Albany to Clarksville, but officials plan to look closely at the potential projects before any decisions are made.
The Brown's Station Way Corridor Study, which covers the roadway between Randolph Avenue and Silver Creek, was commissioned by Clarksville officials in 2019 and completed in December. It looked at factors related to improving safety, reducing speed and developing neighborhood connectivity while creating a space that will blend with the upcoming River Heritage Conservancy.
The study, conducted by Clark Dietz Engineering, found that between 2013 and 2018, there were 112 crashes within the corridor, including 25 with injuries and five fatal. It recommends that the town renovate the road from a freeway to a parkway — reducing the lanes from four to two with a median in between and lowering the speed limit to 35 from its current 45.
Included in the report is data from the Federal Highway Administration which found that "road diet conversions," which is limiting the roadway as described above, can reduce the number of crashes by up to 47 percent.
"Reducing the number of through lanes can calm traffic, reduce weaving, reduce the number of lanes for pedestrians to cross and reduce left-turn conflicts," it reads.
The report states that travel time could be increased by about five minutes during the evening rush hour, and about two minutes during the morning.
It also suggests rebuilding a pedestrian bridge which was demolished in a fatal accident in January 2018, transforming the Lewis and Clark Parkway interchange to an at-grade intersection with a traffic signal, closing intersections at North Clark Boulevard, Leuthart Drive, Emery Crossing and building single-lane roundabouts at Carter Avenue and Bowne Boulevard.
The estimated cost for all projects is just over $16 million.
The study itself is not a set-in-stone plan for what the future will hold for the area — Clarksville town council and redevelopment commission members will still need to discuss it and determine what, if any parts to adopt.
But at least one council member has issues with the plan as it is now.
"I'm deeply concerned about restricting the traffic flow through the area," John Gilkey, who's on the town council and redevelopment commission, said. "That roadway was built as a medium-speed traffic corridor.
"The cost of the project is significant, the impact on people coming out of New Albany is going to be profound."
He added that a potential closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge in the next couple years for renovations would further limit residents' access to and from Louisville — that closure, if complete, could cut off Interstate 64 access from New Albany to Louisville, leaving Brown's Station Way as the only major thoroughfare.
"I think everyone needs to sit down and make a determination of how effective these changes would be in the overall transportation system we have passing through Clarksville," he said. "I think it's wonderful to have a very elegant entranceway going into the new park, but not sure the proposal we have here on the table is the best solution."
A.D. Stonecipher, who also serves on the council and redevelopment commission, agreed that any decisions related to the study should be carefully thought out.
"We have the issues of public safety, the issues of purpose and the issues of what's coming in the future — the River Heritage Conservancy that would bring new traffic," he said. "So there's a lot to think about."
When it was built, Brown's Station Way was one part of a swift thoroughfare from I-64 in New Albany to I-65 in Jeffersonville. But Stonecipher said over time things have evolved — New Albany's installation of two-way streets and lowered speed limits, for example. He said he doesn't see a reason to keep Brown's Station Way at 45 miles per hour, especially when lowering it could prevent accidents.
"New Albany has chosen to go a different direction with their portion of the route," he said. "Some believe it doesn't make sense for Clarksville's portion of that route to remain as it has been.
"I'm prepared to vote to follow suit with New Albany, to make it a more traditional two-way, inner-town corridor," he said.
Gilkey said new members of the council and redevelopment commission will also need to be brought up to speed on the study and potential projects; he added that there could be an additional public input session.