Wednesday there will be a new way to get around Lexington with the opening of Oliver Lewis Way.
The road is a critical phase of the Newtown Pike Extension. It was named after the African-American jockey from Lexington who won the first Kentucky Derby in 1875.
Project leaders are calling this phase of the Newtown Pike Extension a model of collaboration between federal, state, and local officials, and after a long wait, drivers are promised an easier commute.
Like a lot of improvements, things often have to get worse before they get better, and traffic near the Newtown Pike Extension has had its challenges in recent months. But now that Oliver Lewis Way is set to open, nearby residents like Jennifer Abney are looking forward to putting it to use. "It's been an issue getting back and forth from stores and stuff like that with the whole construction of the roads and stuff, so yeah, it's going to be a convenience," Abney said.
Natasha Lacy with the Department of Highways says the $12.5 million phase of the project will provide major improvements for drivers. "It's very important because there should be less accidents, better traffic flow, and less congestion. 26 You'll be able to bypass the downtown core," Lacy said.
Lacy points out that should prove particularly valuable in time for the World Equestrian Games. "Anyone coming from this part of the county, also if you're coming in from the airport, this could be helpful to you in reaching the Horse Park," Lacy said.
After a year of construction on what is known as Phase 4 of the Newtown Pike Extension, many locals are eager to see the road ahead. "Since they've been doing construction, yeah, it's been a drag, but I'm sure when it's all done it will be better," Abney said.
Drivers aren't the only ones set to benefit from the new road. Transportation officials tout features for pedestrians and cyclists as among the major improvements.
The road will open Wednesday at 2 p.m. A public ribbon cutting has been scheduled for September 8th.