Pedestrian safety has never looked so good.
With new curb bump-outs to expand and enhance downtown outdoor dining, street and sidewalk lighting, traffic signal poles, trees and flower planters, benches and seating groups for impromptu and unhurried gatherings and other amenities highlighting improved and widened sidewalks, Danville has undergone a beautiful transformation.
It is one intended to increase pedestrian safety, slow down traffic, reconnect visitors to Danville’s restaurant and shopping landscape and history and culture—and add even more allure to a downtown already known for its irresistible charm.
“In our downtown we don’t have the issue of vacant buildings or derelict areas,” said Danville City Engineer Josh Morgan. “We have a vibrant downtown and our shops are full.
“This project was more about expanding our downtown and making more of it walkable and accessible.”
As is the case with most dramatic transformations, it all began with a diet—a road diet, that is. Several years ago, two blocks of Main Street, between Second and Fourth Streets, slimmed down from four lanes to three. That extra room was reimagined as an inviting and walkable outdoor gathering and dining space. A masterplan was created and adopted in early 2021 and got underway in the summer of 2022 with a projected completion date of summer of 2023.
“With the emphasis on safety, economic development and downtown vibrancy, the expanded sidewalks, bump-out areas for restaurants, benches and a significant amount of pedestrian infrastructure is what you see as the outcome,” said Morgan.
The project is nearly complete. All that remains is for the new traffic signal mast arms to be installed, and that is scheduled to happen in early November.
The streetscape project added about 21,000 square feet of public pedestrian space (roughly the size of Weisiger Park) to downtown. And speaking of this greenspace gem sitting on the northeast corner of Fourth and Main Streets, it also plays a key role in the project. A new, larger multi-tiered water fountain—one designed to match the scale and scope of the redesign—replaced the smaller fountain in Weisiger Park.
“This is the thing I’ve had the most compliments about,” said Morgain. “Everyone is really excited about the fountain.”
As positive as the feedback has been about the fountain and the streetscape project, Morgan does acknowledge that ongoing construction has been a hardship for downtown businesses.
“We really appreciate everyone’s patience through the project,” he said. “It tore apart the whole downtown, and it’s been very disruptive. I’ve learned a lot about small businesses through the process, and really appreciate the patience they’ve had.”
Two Main Street restaurants affected by the project, both in terms of disruption and the resulting beautification with the addition of sidewalk seating, focused on the future.
“With so many businesses being located downtown, the streetscape project is very beneficial to the community over the long term,” said Lahannah Bonagofski, who co-owns La Cosa Nostra and manages Copper & Oak. “Downtown is safer and more beautiful. With the sidewalks, the light poles, the fountain, it’s a wonderful showpiece for downtown and central Kentucky.
“We still have that small-town feel,” Bonagofski added. “And with the walkability of downtown, it makes Danville a destination for others to come and visit.”
According to Morgan, the nearly complete streetscape project is part of a larger master plan, one that will continue to enhance and expand downtown Danville.
“The next step is going to be looking at Walnut and Broadway—the streets parallel to Main Street—to make improvements and make it feel like a part of downtown,” said Morgan.
Learn more about Downtown Danville’s Master Plan and watch a video about the planning process here.
(Blog post written by Kathy Witt)