Traffic will only increase in the coming years, and Hurstbourne and several neighboring communities were faced with inevitable concerns and the need for long-term solutions. A team of GS&P transportation engineers, under principal-in-charge Bill Seymour, P.E., P.L.S., was asked to conduct a transportation study and provide some recommendations.
The engineering team members endorsed a few already-planned street projects, such as the extension of Bunson Parkway, which would provide a parallel route as well as the planned widening of Hurstbourne Parkway. In addition, they recommended carpooling programs to alter traffic demands as well as improvements to pedestrian and cyclist routes.
Also considered were some intersection improvement projects and realignments within the study area. Suggestions included improved traffic signal coordination along with better access management, which involves altering the organization and spacing of driveways on existing roadways. GS&P engineering team members offered some traffic-calming techniques such as creating dead ends on some roads or incorporating selected areas into gated communities. But, as Bill comments, “Traffic calming is a double-edged sword. It can help. It can hurt. It can certainly divide.” While these solutions greatly improve conditions for those living in the calmed areas, they worsen conditions for the roads to which their traffic is routed. It was finally decided that the best way to view the transportation issues was in conjunction with land use issues, so GS&P landscape architect and planner Jon Henney, AICP, ASLA, was asked to create a small-area plan to complement the transportation study.
As Hurstbourne and surrounding communities grew, non-residential development, particularly along Shelbyville Road and Hurstbourne Parkway, increased dramatically. This led to valid concerns about preserving the residential character of the area. Although some stakeholders completely resented development, others acknowledged the function and value of the two corridors as economic engines and sources of employment.
The small-area plan was designed to examine land use in terms of future development and redevelopment that would benefit the area while preserving the character of adjacent Hurstbourne and nearby communities. It was suggested that higher concentrations of nonresidential development could take place around the large intersections of these roadways. Moving away from the intersections, both Shelbyville Road and Hurstbourne Parkway would retain their residential character, ensuring that future development in those areas would be more favorable to residents.
The transition from the multiuse suburban section of the corridor would start with visual cues—streetscape designs, architectural and landscape treatments that create a “gateway” to residential neighborhoods. Roads narrow, speed bumps and pedestrian crossings are placed at decreasing distances from each other, and bicycle lanes create a need for lower speeds. More circuitous routes on side streets discourage cut-throughs, and bump-outs at intersections physically narrow the roads and signal that the commercial corridor is being left behind.
Many of these suggestions influenced modifications in the existing form district regulations. Form districts, unlike zoning districts, dictate design guidelines and standards as well as other elements such as setbacks and height restrictions. Ideally, these changes will influence the behavior of motorists and also encourage future patterns of development designed to protect the residential character of the corridor.