LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18)– On Monday, Mayor Jim Gray broke ground on Town Branch Commons, a project six years in the making.
Town Branch Commons will wind through downtown, stretching two miles, from just west of Rupp Arena to the Isaac Murphy Memorial Art Garden on the east end.
Work on Town Branch Commons began in 2012, with Gray’s decision to hold an international design competition. The winner, SCAPE / LANDSCAPE ARCHITECTURE, is led by Kate Orff, winner of a MacArthur Genius Grant.
The trail, which follows along the path of Lexington’s original water source (Town Branch), won a $14.1 million federal TIGER Grant, plus $13.6 million in state and federal grants and loans. With a local investment of $11.8 million, the $39.5 million trail portion is fully funded.
Town Branch will link the City’s two major trails, Town Branch Trail and the Legacy Trail, giving Lexington 22 miles of uninterrupted bike and pedestrian paths, and connecting downtown to the rural landscape.
Town Branch Commons is a public-private partnership. The excitement around Town Branch has already attracted $6 million in private gifts for a new signature park. “That’s unprecedented for gifts to a parks project in Lexington,” Gray said. “Thanks to the donors and to the hard-working group that is designing a park that will be a destination and a sensation. It will have gravitational pull.”
Fund-raising continues for the $31 million park, planned next to the new convention center.
Work on the trail begins in the next few weeks with work on the sewers that will be under it, part of Lexington’s ongoing reconstruction of its sewer system. There will be lane closures along Main Street, Eastern Avenue, Short Street and Midland Avenue.