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City Not Yet Sold On UK Rose Street Plan

Josh James
Part of Rose Street has been off-limits to regular traffic since July 2014. Now, the University of Kentucky is trying to convince the city to approve its permanent closure.

City leaders are hitting pause on a University of Kentucky plan to permanently shut down a portion of Rose Street. Members of a city council committee say more input is needed before the university can proceed.

Closing the section of Rose Street between Columbia Avenue and Huguelet Drive may not sound revolutionary to students and faculty who have grown accustomed to the "Road Closed" signs bookending the street for more than two years now. But as Mary Vosevich with UK’s facilities management reiterated at a committee meeting Tuesday, school planners see the closure as one more step toward a truly walkable campus.

"This is in large part our request for the safety of our students and the UK community," she explained, elaborating on the "mall-like" corridor imagined by the university. 

But the city has safety concerns as well, specifically about another nearby connector road – Hilltop Avenue – which the university is also eyeing for closure. Doug Burton with Lexington’s engineering department said shutting down Hilltop raises a few red flags.

"That's a direct link between a lot of the hospitals from the north side, so there's concerns from standpoint. And again from an infrastructure standpoint,  now you're forcing that traffic that would have gone through Hilltop, etc. onto smaller streets and that's going to have a detrimental effect on those," he argued.

Complicating matters is the question of who owns Hilltop – the city or the university. Councilman Jake Gibbs said he’d like to see an agreement hammered out on that issue before the council gives UK the green light on Rose. The Planning and Public Safety Committee ultimately decided to hold off on approving the university’s request.

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and program director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.
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