Residents of Lexington, KY and beyond can trace the length of a long-buried waterway through a unique multi-media design experiment. Lexington, KY was founded on the banks of the Town Branch Fork of the Elkhorn River, but as the city grew, the creek was buried below ground. The Town Branch Water Walk, created for the Lexington Downtown Development Authority by a multi-disciplinary team led by SCAPE and MTWTF, encourages the public to explore Lexington’s hidden waterway. The Water Walk is a self-guided audio tour of downtown Lexington’s Town Branch creek, and examines the history, ecology, geology and infrastructure that impacts this waterway.
Produced by University of Kentucky Landscape Architecture students and funded by the LFUCG Stormwater Incentive Grant Program, the podcasts include interviews with local experts on topics ranging from Lexington’s green infrastructural projects to the complicated nature of Kentucky’s karst-defined hydrology. The tour follows the culvert downstream from its headwaters on a busy highway to where it daylights in a parking lot behind the University of Kentucky’s Rupp Arena. The podcasts can be streamed online or downloaded from the project website, which also hosts an interactive map of the tour and key terms referenced throughout the podcasts.
Three months of events kicked off on September 18, including a pop-up exhibition at PARKing day, showcasing an interactive model of the culvert with stations for visitors to listen to the podcasts. On September 20, the Lexington Downtown Development Authority and Livable LEX hosted a 2nd Sunday event that turned a lane of busy highway into a protected trail, allowing residents to walk and bike the length of the culvert, take part in a scavenger hunts, and follow guided tours of the podcast trail, whose length was marked with eco-friendly chalk paint. Additional events will be held October 11 and November 8.