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'We need a more connected city'; New federal funding to help do away with '9th Street Divide' in Louisville

Many said the new plans not only take away the physical barrier between west Louisville and the rest of the city, but the invisible barrier as well.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Federal funding is headed to Louisville to help reimagine some of the roads near downtown.

According to a press release, Louisville is receiving $20.5 million in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) program grants to fund two major projects: ReImagine 9th Street and Broadway All the Way.

ReImagine 9th Street will change it from a six-lane thoroughfare into a complete street. A pedestrian area, protected bike facilities and green infrastructure are included in the plan. Construction is set to begin in the second half of 2025.

"After many years of working to break down the physical and invisible 9th Street divide, we are excited to bring ReImagine 9th Street to life, which will complement the ongoing investments in Beecher Terrace and the broader Russell neighborhood," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said.

Another part of the plan will also make Chestnut Street and Muhammad Ali Boulevard two-way streets instead of the current one-way. Council President David James (D-6) helped provide the funding.

"The first thing I did was say Thank You, Jesus, because it's been such a long time coming," said Dr. Jamesetta Ferguson, the president & CEO of MOLO Village. "This is the first new development on West Jefferson in over 50 years."

She said to see that physical barrier be removed will improve the connectivity of the west end to the rest of Louisville immensely.

"The way that it is right now, you have these huge streets that are impossible to cross the street safely," Ferguson said.

But with the physical barriers, comes years of invisible ones.

"They've been neglected for so many years," Ferguson said. "And there have been promises that have been made that haven't been unkept."

It's something Rachel Platt, director of community engagement at the Frazier History Museum, said they've invested in and are working hard to show that history.

"This exhibit was just to make sure that we understood the history of the policy, how those divides happen, the wonderful neighborhoods that are west of ninth," Platt said.

She said this is something that is long overdue.

"Realize that we need a more connected city, a more inclusive city and a more equitable city," Platt said.

For Ferguson, she said it's been refreshing to see revitalization projects in the west end, but that it's important to make sure it doesn't progressively turn into gentrification.

"I think it's a start, you know, you're always concerned that it's a one-off, and we don't want that. And so that means that we have to continue to beat the drum and to continue to be vocal," she said.

Having those in the area included in these conversations makes for a successful plan to connect the city Ferguson said.

The Broadway All the Way plan will look at Bus Rapid Transit similar to what is on Dixie Highway, as well as upgraded pedestrian and bus shelters according to the release.

Fischer said Broadway All the Way will connect neighborhoods from the east to the west, as well as provide an improved transportation experience.

Metro Government and Gresham Smith hope to have a complete draft plan by the end of 2025.

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