University of Kentucky's reconstructed Alumni Drive enhances multimodal safety and efficiency
As part of master planning to upgrade its facilities and road network, the University of Kentucky undertook a $4.17 million reconstruction project in the summer of 2015 to widen Alumni Drive, reduce congestion and improve multimodal access and safety. Alumni Drive is a critical thoroughfare at the south end of the university’s main campus in Lexington. It provides daily access for 19,000 vehicles to the university, its football venue, Commonwealth Stadium, and other athletic facilities; the 100-acre Arboretum, the State Botanical Garden of Kentucky; daycare and senior centers; residential complexes and several parking lots. The 1.4-mile corridor serves multiple users: students and workers, regional commuters, pedestrians, cyclists, buses, emergency vehicles and Wildcats football game-day crews. While long desired, the project picked up steam as Alumni Drive’s pavement deteriorated beyond a typical resurfacing project. Additionally, a four-way stop caused congestion for motorists, while the roadway conditions made it difficult for bicyclists and pedestrians to traverse the corridor safely.
CDM Smith provided end-to-end planning, final design and construction engineering and inspection services on the project. The design had to accommodate vehicles of all sizes, keep traffic flowing during peak and non-peak hours, and sustainably enhance access to this vital campus entrance and nearby sites like the Arboretum. The reconstructed green roadway includes several new features to increase traffic safety and efficiency: two roundabouts, widened travel lanes, bicycle lanes, a multi-use trail and LED street lights. Alumni Drive’s two previous stop-controlled intersections were converted to roundabouts to calm traffic. To traverse the roundabouts, a specialized design feature was integrated to allow bicyclists to either merge into traffic or use a slip lane to join pedestrians on the multi-use trail.
The improvements were completed within an accelerated, 10-month design and construction schedule that allotted just 16 weeks for construction between May and August, before students returned for the fall semester. Detour planning was a significant challenge. CDM Smith’s design had to consider adjacent construction, including a Federal Emergency Management Agency flood relief project and new sports and parking facilities being built. Access to these active projects needed to be maintained while providing enough room for the roadway contractor. High levels of communication and cooperation between the university, CDM Smith, Lexington Fayette Urban County Government, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and contractors enabled the project to open 1 day ahead of schedule.
Opened to traffic in August 2016, Alumni Drive is a first-class transportation facility and complete street that keeps cars, bicyclists and pedestrians moving safely and efficiently through the south section of campus, resolving the university’s challenges and reflecting the values of sustainability and mobility. The project was recognized with a 2016 American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC)-Kentucky Engineering Excellence Grand Award, as well as a 2016 ACEC National Recognition Award.