JEFFERSONVILLE — After decades of inadequacies, the renovated 10th Street corridor of Jeffersonville is now fully open to traffic.
On Tuesday, Mayor Mike Moore held a news conference at the corner of Sharon Drive and 10th Street to announce that construction has wrapped up.
For Moore, it marked the fulfillment of his biggest campaign promise when he first announced his bid for mayor, as well as a hope he and his father — who died almost three years ago — had always dreamed of bringing to fruition.
"This was an issue that my dad and I talked about a lot over the last 30 years," Moore said. "This was the reason I ran for mayor eight years ago. As a small business owner, I got tired of politicians coming and saying they were going to fix and widen 10th Street. That was my family's business from 1963 on, and 10th Street is the busiest road in the city of Jeffersonville. It was ignored and neglected, and it showed."
The downfall of the thoroughfare hasn't been limited to recent years. Rather, it's something that has been an issue for quite some time.
"The decay of 10th Street has happened over the course of the last 30 years," Moore said. "I think the city ignored its most vibrant, busy street, and I made one big campaign promise. It was very frustrating the first four years I was mayor, because the council was doing everything they could do to stop it. I couldn't get them to approve the project, which I needed to start working. I worked to smooth over those relationships, and some new council members came in at the beginning of my second term. Right off the bat, we got approval."
According to Moore, the $20 million project, which included purchasing 125 parcels of land, officially began in 2016, starting with design and logistical planning before putting shovels into the ground. Now that it is finished, he was full of emotion, calling Tuesday "one of his happiest days of being mayor."
"When I go out in public, people want to ask about 10th Street," Moore said. "Over the last 18 months, they've wanted to know when it's going to get done. The orange barrels are gone and the project is finished, so let's celebrate."
Sharing in the elation are local businesses, who will no longer be impeded by construction.
"It's exciting," said Jennifer Easterling, practice manager at Eastside Animal Hospital on 10th Street. "I think it's really going to help the growth overall of 10th Street and Jeffersonville. We are looking forward to it. It looks much nicer. The flow over traffic is moving, and we have a turn lane now. All of that is wonderful."
Wash-O-Rama has had a location on 10th Street since 1970. Jake McDonough, whose grandfather founded the business, said he and his family have waited years for the improvements.
"We have been waiting, kind of like everywhere around this area," McDonough said. "We were 30 years behind the times. It's nice to finally get what we need, with stuff like the bridges being done and this being done. The blight up and down the road, hopefully we'll get some good people in and get some economic prosperity again. You'll watch it blow up down here."
As far as the future goes, Moore said 10th Street has the city's full attention.
"That's the reason we paid $150,000 to have a master plan of 10th Street," Moore said. "I know everybody thinks of 10th Street as a commercial district. I think we're going to recreate it, and it's probably going to become more of a residential and commercial mix. Areas where you might pull off may not look like the entrance to a subdivision from the street, but once you go back it'll open up. It is the recreation of 10th Street."
McDonough said he would like to see a return of 10th Street's vibrant days, when it was a bustling corridor full of business.
"Let's go back to the days of Bacon's from back in the mid-1980s," McDonough said. "I was a young, young kid coming in here. This place babysat me, so I can remember those days. 10th Street was full always and very busy. Hopefully we can get some businesses in on the vacant properties and get this area going again. That's what we need. We've got the right people in place in the city. They're staying out of our way and letting us thrive. Now, we just need to get it going."