JEFFERSONVILLE — Work on a prominent section of Spring Street was recently completed, bringing new life to a long-neglected Jeffersonville neighborhood.
Roughly three years ago, city officials began work on the Spring Street Master Plan, which called for upgrades to be made to the Spring Street corridor. At Monday's Jeffersonville City Council meeting, it was announced that the first phase of those plans had been completed.
The Claysburg segment of the street now has a number of new safety and aesthetic features, coming at a price of just under $1 million. Those upgrades can now be seen between Riddle and 14th streets.
Nathan Pruitt, the city's director of planning, said the project is worth being celebrated, as it increases accessibility for a number of groups — including pedestrians, cyclists, wheelchair users, drivers and transit users.
"It gives them all a place to be on the roadway and in the cross section to travel safely and with dignity," he said. "It can't be better. It looks fantastic, just from a visual standpoint, and the safety measures are fantastic as well."
Among the improvements are street lighting, bike lanes, new sidewalks, gutters, fresh pavement and designated parallel parking areas. By clearly marking the boundaries for each of these areas, vehicles traveling along the roadway will be more constricted, thus causing traffic to slow.
Before the changes were made, Pruitt said the lanes were wider than those on a typical interstate, which is 14 feet. That allowed vehicles to travel well over the posted speed limit of 25 miles per hour.
"[Interstate lanes] are 14 feet for a reason, because when you have high speed, you need a little wiggle room to kind of float in a lane," Pruitt said. "The problem with having neighborhood lanes that are that open is you'll have people who'll just speed super fast, way over posted signage. That's pretty much fixed now."
Such high speeds caused those parking along the street to take matters into their own hands when it came to preventing damage to their vehicles.
"They didn't want to have their mirrors or actual car sideswiped," Pruitt said. "To mitigate that personally, they'd park on the sidewalk, which blocks all the pedestrian users. The irony is you just made the lane extra wide. What those cars end up doing is creating a no-pass area, and it kind of restricts it all."
Some of the most important improvements brought to the roadway are those that promote accessibility for wheelchair users. According to Pruitt, it wasn't uncommon to see motorized wheelchairs traveling the street. This was due in part to sidewalks not being compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
"The biggest thing is making sure the corridor has multi-modal access for all users that's safe," he said. "The fact that we constantly had motorized wheelchair users out in the road is unacceptable. When you don't have ADA-compliant intersections where there's a curb, that's unacceptable."
Some of the surrounding properties along the Claysburg segment have seen further improvements, Pruitt added. Homes have been renovated, while others have been put on the market.
"People are taking pride in their private property," Pruitt said. "They see some of the pride the city's putting in to the streetscape. I think it just further incentivizes them to maintain, and it leads to good things."
The next step for the project involves getting a design for the entire length of the Spring Street Master Plan, which comprises four sections — Claysburg, the hospital district, the arts and cultural district and downtown. When all is said and done, a cohesive corridor will stretch from the recently-completed section all the way to Riverside Drive along the Ohio River.
Pruitt said United Consulting will provide Jeffersonville officials with "shovel-ready" plans, after which the city will find funding for the final three sections.
"It's going to unify not only the aesthetics, but the safety of the entire corridor," he said. "It's giving everyone a place to be and slowing some speeds down. This isn't an arterial, cross-connecting roadway. This is literally our main street, so it needs to be appropriately traveled speed-wise so that everyone is safe."