The City of Jeffersonville Plans for Active Transportation
By: Nate Nickel
The City of Jeffersonville is nearing official completion of a Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. Highlights include 30 miles of new trail and $32 million of new infrastructure construction. This planning effort is aimed towards providing both visitors and locals with an opportunity to connect with important community activity centers, without the need to drive a motorized vehicle. With a City Council approval, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan will be an amendment to the Transportation Element of the City’s comprehensive plan.
A major driver for creating this plan was the Big Four Bridge Project, a redevelopment of an former railroad bridge that connected Louisville, Kentucky with Jeffersonville, Indiana. Plans were unveiled in 2011 to reopen the bridge as a bicycle and pedestrian link between the two communities. After several years of construction, the Louisville ramp of the Big Four Bridge opened to bicycle and pedestrian traffic in February of 2013. The stairs that will connect the bridge to Jeffersonville is scheduled to open in November 2013, while a corresponding ramp will open next spring. According to Shane Corbin, City of Jeffersonville Planning Director, the bridge is extremely well used. In fact, counts of bridge traffic showed that over 500,000 bicyclists and pedestrians have used the facility since June 2013.
To capitalize on this new active transportation link, the City of Jeffersonville wanted to prepare strategies on how best to connect downtown Jeffersonville with the Big Four Bridge. A master plan would allow Jeffersonville, along with neighboring communities, to see an increase in health, environmental benefits and an increase in economic development opportunities. In fact, anticipation of the bridge connection was already generating considerable economic development opportunities. According to Mr. Corbin, 4 new restaurants and an art studio have recently opened in downtown Jeffersonville. Additionally, for the first time since the 1950’s, there are no storefront vacancies along downtown’s historic Spring Street.
Planning efforts began in December of 2012, when the City of Jeffersonville hosted a Bicycle-Friendly Community Seminar. This was facilitated jointly by the Indiana State Department of Health (ISDH) and Bicycle Indiana. This full day seminar was attended by over fifty people representing a broad range of community stakeholders. Based upon the success of the seminar, ISDH funded a follow-up grant for the preparation of a community wide bicycle and pedestrian master plan for the City of Jeffersonville.
The City utilized two consulting firms to assist with the development of the plan. A kick-off meeting was held in March of 2013. An Advisory Committee was also formed to provide guidance to the consultants, with membership consisting of government officials, non-profit organizations, health and fitness organizations and local businesses. A number of stakeholder meetings were used to gather specific input and information from government agencies, employers, area organizations and private citizens. A total of three large-scale community meetings were held to solicit public feedback and ideas, review draft planning objectives and to present the final plan document.
The completed plan contains a wide number of facility analysis and infrastructure recommendations. A comprehensive Level of Service and infrastructure condition study was completed first. This set the stage for planning specific facility improvements for areas of the community. Specific infrastructure improvements called for in the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan include the following features and elements: implementing a Complete Streets Policy; developing 4 main corridors of bicycle lanes, sidewalks and pathways; installing a designated bicycle boulevard and a cycle track. Mr. Corbin said that the initial phases of the Plan include roughly 13 miles of roadway treatments, which can be completed for around $400,000.
The Jeffersonville Plan Commission forwarded the Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan to the City Council with a positive recommendation. Mr. Corbin said that it is scheduled to be discussed for adoption by the City Council in late October.
For more information about the Jeffersonville Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, please see the following link: http://www.koverthawkins.net/KHAwebFiles/Jeffersonville_Bicycle_and_Ped_Plan/Jeffersonville_Bicycle_and_Pedestrian_Plan_Website.html
(Thank you to Shane Corbin, City of Jeffersonville Planning Director, for his helpful assistance in preparing this blog post, as well as providing the accompanying photos).