Archive for the Transportation Category

Don’t Forget! CycLOUvia Happens This Sunday, Oct. 14th

Posted in Development, Environment, Happenings, Louisville News, Transportation with tags , , , , , on October 9, 2012 by othersideoflife

Despite the seemingly goofy name*, CycLOUvia is happening on Bardstown Road this Sunday, October 14th, and we’re glad for it! Here’s the deal: Bardstown Road and Baxter Avenue will be CLOSED to all automobile traffic between Douglass Boulevard and Broadway, open only to pedestrians and bicyclists (and other non-motorized folks) from 1:30 to 6:30 PM. Here’s a map of the closed area, with automobile access points:

Even TARC buses are being detoured, so you know it’s serious. Serious fun! As someone who works part-time in two businesses on Bardstown Road (including a business that was recently damaged by a drunk driver — thankfully no one was hurt), I can’t think of anything better than to have a nice, chill day without aggressively-speeding or cluelessly-phone-talking car drivers on what is generally a pretty badly congested, lacklusterly policed road.

*the term comes from cyclovia, a successful 30-year long program to reduce automobile traffic in Bogota, Colombia.


Simpsonville Slaughter Historical Marker to be Dedicated Sunday

Posted in Happenings, Kentucky History, Kentucky News, Kentucky Small Towns, Obituary, Transportation on January 20, 2009 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Marker image from 5th Regiment Cavalry, United States Colored Troops site.)

On Sunday, out in Simpsonville just east of Louisville, a new historical marker will be dedicated along U.S. 60, telling the tale of the “Simpsonville Slaughter” that occurred in 1865. We’ll admit, we’d never even heard of this terrible part of our nation’s history until we read the Courier-Journal‘s story on the dedication this morning:

A historical marker noting a Civil War massacre called the Simpsonville Slaughter will be dedicated Sunday along U.S. 60 at Webb Road, one-half mile west of Simpsonville.

On Jan. 25, 1865, while driving a herd of cattle to a slaughterhouse in Louisville, elements of the 5th U.S. Colored Cavalry were attacked near Simpsonville by Confederate guerillas.

Twenty-two soldiers were killed and at least 20 others wounded, including four of whom died later of their wounds.

The cavalry was based at Camp Nelson, and nearly all of the soldiers were former slaves.

The ceremony dedicating the marker will be at 2 p.m. on the 144th anniversary of the incident.

The ceremony, which is open to the public, will begin indoors at the Whitney M. Young Job Corps Center gymnasium; the center is just off U.S. 60.

The marker will then be unveiled at the intersection, less than a quarter-mile from the center.

The keynote speaker at the 2 p.m. service will be W. Stephen McBride, director of interpretation and archaeology at the Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park in Jessamine County. Civil War re-enactors will participate in the ceremony.

Jerry Miller, the volunteer Simpsonville Slaughter project manager with the Shelby County Historical Society, said most of the victims of the attack were buried in a mass grave near the site of the ambush and near where the marker will be erected.

Pretty interesting stuff, to be sure! There’s much more information available both at the 5th Regiment Cavalry site and at the Camp Nelson site.

Welcome Centers to Reduce Hours, Maybe Close; Will State Parks Be Next?

Posted in Art, Economics, Kentucky News, Labor, Media, Politics, Transportation on December 16, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(Picture of Marcheta Sparrow and Gov. Steve Beshear from

Here’s an interesting case in contrasting how two different local media outlets report the same story. On our lunch break, we heard a brief story on WFPL about how Kentucky’s Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet is closing Interstate Welcome Centers two days a week to save money, along with some other cuts:

Most state agencies will see four-percent cuts under Governor Beshear’s budget-balancing plan, including the Department of Travel. And that could mean the department will have to reduce hours and close all eight welcome centers two days a week, says Tourism, Arts and Heritage Secretary Marcheta Sparrow.

“I think it will have a fairly significant effect, because they’re the frontline,” says Sparrow. “They’re the people who give information on lodging and restaurants and attractions that people may see and in some cases they give our emergency information and help the traveling public.”

The cuts will also impact funding for the arts, staffing at the Kentucky Heritage Council and operating hours at the Kentucky History Center in Frankfort.

The possibility of budget cuts affecting state parks is briefly touched upon, without a direct quote from Sparrow, at the end of the story:

Secretary Sparrow does not believe the cuts will require closure of any state parks, but says if the situation grows worse, that could change.

We thought we’d see how the story is being reported elsewhere, since any possible closure of state parks would be a pretty big deal.

Over at the good ol’ Courier-Journal, however, the same facts are treated much differently in their story, beginning with the headline Parks predicts closings, layoffs without tax hike:

Some state parks would be closed and about 300 employees would be laid off next year if the state doesn’t get more revenue from the Gov. Steve Beshear’s proposed increase in the cigarette tax, a state official said this morning.

Marcheta Sparrow, secretary of the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, said she did not know how many parks might be closed if Beshear’s proposal to increase the cigarette tax from 30 cents to $1 per pack is rejected by lawmakers.

“It could be rather significant,” Sparrow said of the closings. Kentucky has 52 state parks, and 17 of them are resort parks.

Strange that WFPL eschewed reporting on Sparrow’s remarks about the proposed cigarette tax increase entirely. Though perhaps it is stranger still that Sparrow would comment on the proposed increase considering it’s just a proposition, and the legislation isn’t even in session yet.

Additionally, the C-J’s story outlines more cuts:

She said hours at the Berea Artisan Center, Kentucky History Center in Frankfort, and state welcome centers on interstate highways will be reduced. She said there will be reduced funds and technical assistance for artists through the Kentucky Arts Council, and she said there is a “strong” chance that 10 scholarships will be cut from the Governor’s School for the Arts, a summer program for gifted high school students.

UPDATE, 12/17/08: The Courier-Journal is running a story with an even bleaker headline this morning: Budget Crunch May Force Several KY. Parks to Close.

Big Box Reuse Author Coming to Louisville, Bardstown

Posted in Art, Development, Drink, Economics, Environment, Happenings, Kentucky Small Towns, Labor, Louisville News, Media, Politics, Transportation on December 3, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(above image of Julia Christensen’s Big Box Reuse from

We got scooped on it by Consuming Louisville, but we still wanted to inform you that our good friend and Bardstown native Julia Christensen will be in both Louisville and Bardstown this weekend to talk about her book Big Box Reuse (which we told you about back in October). Julia’s presenting a free opening of photographs from the book at the Green Building Gallery this Friday, December 5th from 5 to 9 PM. Here’s an excerpt from the press release:

In her book Big Box Reuse , and accompanying photographic exhibition, Julia Christensen takes us on a road trip across America to look at what becomes of the spaces superstores leave behind when they move out. These warehouse-like buildings have found their place in the built landscape since the first Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target stores opened in 1962.

Since the spring of 2004, Christensen has driven over 75,000 miles, visiting converted “big boxes” and meeting the people who are transforming these massive shells into useful structures for their community. She has documented what happened to the structures, the parking lots, and the surrounding communities. She has found out who wanted to reuse the buildings, why and how. What Christensen has discovered is that examining the big box building provides a wealth of information that will help us steer the future of our landscape with more informed decision-making processes. Among the things Big Box Reuse points out: despite the harmful construction of the big box, reuse is a powerful tool in the fight against the increasing dangers of sprawl. For every building that is reused, a new one does not go up; a monumental victory, as the National Trust for Historic Preservation recently indicated the energy used to destroy older buildings in addition to the energy used to build new ones could power the entire state of California for 10 years (LA Times, October 2008).

She’ll also be speaking and signing books tomorrow (that’s Thursday, December 4th) at the Glassworks Building at 6 PM as part of the Sustainable City Series. This event is free but space is limited; you can reserve a space here.

Last but not least, Julia will be in Bardstown on Saturday, December 6th for a book signing at Bardstown Booksellers starting at 2 PM.

For more information, visit the Big Box Reuse site at

Catching Up With Post-Thanksgiving News

Posted in Economics, Food, Kentucky News, Labor, Louisville Music History, Louisville News, Music, Sports, Transportation on December 1, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

Last week was as slow as molasses, bringing a well-reserved respite to us few news junkies in the Louisville area, but only one day into this week brings a spate of local news, not all of it good. So forsaking the single-news post format, we bring you a run-down of what’s in the news today. Without further ado:

(bankruptcy chart from the Courier-Journal.)

Local Bankruptcies Have Risen Sharply (C-J) – Pull quote: “In the New Albany and Louisville divisions of federal bankruptcy court, there have been a combined 8,661 company and individual bankruptcies so far this year — an increase of 23 percent from a year earlier.”

TARC to Study Commuter Rail (C-J) – Pull quote: “The Transit Authority of River City plans to spend as much as $150,000 to hire a consultant and study the possibility of establishing commuter rail service between Louisville and points southwest of the city, including Fort Knox.” Nice follow-up from this story: Not that we’re holding our breath…

Australian Brett Dean Wins the Grawemeyer Award (C-J) – There’s a video clip of part of the first movement on the right panel of the C-J‘s online story.

Century-old Mazzoni’s Closes in Middletown (C-J) – What a shame. Frankly, we’re not surprised given the tough economy’s effect so far on local independent restaurants (ie., a bunch have closed), and the relative remoteness of the location. Restauranteurs and other retailers need to reinvest in closer-in parts of Louisville, in our opinion.

Obama Effigy-Hangers’ at UK Headed to Grand Jury (Bluegrass Beat blog, part of the Herald-Leader) – Indict ’em, Dan-o.

The Mayor Held a Press Conference This Morning, Everything’s Getting Cut (The ‘Ville Voice) – Ouch.

But Mayor Jerry, Why Aren’t The Books Open to the Public? (Louisville History and Issues) – We’d like to join the chorus of voices asking why Louisville Metro’s books aren’t on the record, for the public to peruse. To us, having the financial records of the city open to its citizens is a no-brainer. Democracy doesn’t work without transparency, Jerry.

Commuter Rail Coming to Louisville?

Posted in Development, Economics, Kentucky News, Labor, Louisville News, Transportation on November 7, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

(C-J‘s illustration of the rail route.)

Unfortunately, it’s not likely to occur very quickly, especially with the economy as it is right now. But the Courier-Journal is reporting this morning that a number of local government officials will be on board a 100-passenger train run from Louisville to Elizabethtown tomorrow, and that the ride might be a spur to push for commuter rail for the South End:

Louisville’s light-rail movement faded about four years ago, but traditional train service may be getting a fresh look.

Elected officials from Jefferson, Hardin and Meade counties are among 100 passengers who plan to take a leisurely three-hour, round-trip train ride between Louisville and Cecilia, Ky., just west of Elizabethtown, tomorrow.

Mass transit supporters view the trip on the Paducah & Louisville Railway, which runs roughly along Dixie Highway and through Fort Knox, as the first step toward establishing a passenger rail system between Louisville and the growing Army post.

“My hope is that we can build some critical mass in terms of support and possibly do some sort of analysis of what it would cost to put commuter (rail) cars on that line,” said Jim King, president of Louisville’s Metro Council.

The Transit Authority of River City and council members have been discussing commuter rail for months. Tomorrow’s excursion is intended to draw attention to the possibility of passenger service and start gauging whether local leaders want to go forward.

If they do, the next step would be a study outlining the costs — and feasibility — of the project.

While the demonstration trip is scheduled to take 90 minutes one way at 35 mph, actual commuter trains could reach speeds up to 60 mph, said A.V. “Tony” Reck, the railway’s president and CEO. The trip takes 45 minutes to an hour by car.

“We certainly have an interest in expanding rail,” said Barry Barker, TARC’s executive director. He estimates it would cost $50 million to $75 million to create a commuter rail line, with operating costs of at least $4 million annually.

Under Barker’s scenario, a commuter rail line would cost substantially less than the city’s light-rail project, which was suspended in 2004 with a price tag of $661 million…

Tomorrow’s demonstration run is the brainchild of two groups — the nonprofit Coalition for the Advancement of Regional Transportation and the Kentucky-Indiana Rail Advocates — and has the financial backing of local governments.

Metro Council members contributed $4,000 from their discretionary accounts, and other cities and counties added $900, said John Owen, a community activist organizing the project. The money will cover liability insurance for the trip.

“If Louisville is going to be a top-notch city, $4,000 is a minimal investment for something that could be ripe for the future,” he said.

Metro Council member Vicki Aubrey Welch said using existing rail lines would avoid some of the expense of light rail, which would have required new construction and buying property.

“We’re just thinking in ways that other communities have already and emulate what they’ve done,” she said…

In the Louisville area, the expansion of Fort Knox could help the commuter rail project, supporters say. As part of the military’s national base realignment plan, the base is preparing for a $950 million construction boom and more than $300 million in new payroll.

In all, about 6,000 military and civilian employees and contractors are expected to move to the Fort Knox area by 2011, said Brad Richardson, executive director of the One Knox economic development group.

Richardson said a commuter rail line could serve new residents who want to live in Louisville, for example, and work at Fort Knox. A rail line would also give Hardin County residents new access to Louisville’s health care, shopping and other attractions.

Of course, there’s one big caveat at the end of the article:

The Paducah & Louisville Railway is supplying two cars and the engineers for tomorrow’s demonstration run, Reck said. But he said his company isn’t planning on investing in a commuter rail project.

“Let’s face it. There’s not a passenger system in the world that makes money. … All of them take some sort of government subsidy,” he said.

Crestwood Family in Obama Infomercial

Posted in Economics, Elections, Film, Kentucky News, Labor, Louisville News, Media, Politics, Transportation on October 30, 2008 by stateofthecommonwealth

One of the big presidential campaign stories from yesterday was the Obama campaign’s 30-minute infomercial which aired simultaneously on three network stations (excluding ABC) in prime-time. While Obama is not expected to win Kentucky’s electoral votes, the infomercial featured the Dowell family of Crestwood, just outside of Louisville. The Courier-Journal tells us a little (but not much) more this morning about Mark Dowell, who works at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant in eastern Jefferson County:

Mark Dowell said he never expected the invitation to introduce Barack Obama when the presidential candidate visited Louisville in May, but he was even more surprised when the campaign asked him to share his story for a national audience.

The 35-year-old autoworker from Crestwood was one of several Americans featured last night in a 30-minute prime-time commercial that the Democratic nominee used to present his biography and policies to the public.

“It was a great feeling to see me and to know the nation’s seeing me,” Dowell said in an interview after the commercial aired. “I feel proud.”

In the commercial, Dowell talked about how the instability in the auto industry has made his financial future unclear. His wife was laid off from the Kentucky Truck Plant, where they both work, and he has “down” weeks or weeks where he is temporarily without work.

“Eight years ago we couldn’t build trucks fast enough and now they are slowing us down,” said Dowell, who is the father of two daughters, ages 4 and 14.

Dowell said he thinks that Obama’s economic policies will put more money back in the pockets of the middle class and keep jobs from going overseas. And he said he hopes that will eventually help turn the economy around.

“My grandfather retired from Ford, my father retired from Ford and I hope I can retire from Ford,” he said.