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Bluegrass Harmony
After decades of absence from the field of highway design, landscape architects show how a road can fit the land in Kentucky’s bluegrass country.
By Mary E. Myers, ASLA

Pike. The word conjures up images of a humble, rustic turnpike. However, Kentucky’s 12.5-mile Paris Pike—or, as it is formally referred to, the Paris–Lexington Road—is a highway of refined and sophisticated design, as I found out when I drove it last August.

© 2002 Kenneth Hayden

After dinner in downtown Lexington, I headed north through sprawl and bright lights. Here lay the familiar vision of the American highway: fast food and gasoline franchises, garish signs and parking lots, apartment complexes and supermarkets. The sprawl soon gave way to the older unchanged Pike, a two-lane road without shoulders.

The transition to the narrow country road was abrupt. The oncoming headlights veered uncomfortably close, and trees loomed up in the darkness. Beyond the trees stood the dark forms of great houses, barns, and pastures—lovely, but distracting from the attention demanded by the road.

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