Imagining a future transit system in Louisville

Jun 26, 2019 at 12:35 pm
A detail of a map by Luis Huber-Calvo.
A detail of a map by Luis Huber-Calvo.

This is a part of a package of articles on the future of transportation in Louisville. For more, click here.

This vision for Louisville’s transit future is inspired in part by the streetcar lines that once defined our transportation system. This hypothetical and highly ambitious rail map does not try to reinvent our city. Instead, it strengthens what already works and fills in the transit gap for what could work better.

This vision reimagines our corridors as multimodal arteries that connect our neighborhoods with each other and with our downtown core. This is not a new idea: It’s how much of the city operated in its formative years. Louisville’s transit future could thus end up looking similar to its transit past. Much of our city was built with the streetcar in mind — many of the corridors and neighborhoods in the old urban boundary are suited for this type of transportation. A quick browsing of the map will show that Main Street, Market Street, Broadway, Bardstown Road and Frankfort Avenue are essential to the system’s connectivity. The vision is simple: Imagine a future in which traveling from Shawnee Park to the Mall St. Matthews is practical and convenient without an automobile. Imagine a future where you can go about your daily life without ever having to jump into a car.

It’s easy to romanticize our streetcar past. Louisville is not the same city it was when the streetcar last ruled the right of way. The suburbs grew and population density decreased. This map is not perfect, nor is it far-reaching enough (Southern Indiana comes to mind), but perhaps it will add to a conversation we must have as a city. Our transportation future has to be bold and must work for everyone, or we will end up stuck in traffic for years to come.

Luis Huber-Calvo, planner, MKSK Patrick Piuma, director, Urban Design Studio