Changing the face of West Broad Street

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By Josh Jordan
Staff Writer

The plans are in their infancy, but the general timeline has been determined. The West Broad Streetscape Improvement Project is expected to start in 2020.

A meeting held on Nov. 29 at West Broad Elementary was so full of residents that no chair was available 20 minutes after the doors opened. Residents knew that this meeting could help shape a main corridor of the Hilltop for years to come.

“This is big,” said Toni Rotonda, a former resident of the area for 20 years who now owns rental properties along this corridor. “Everybody wants to see this area move and do something positive. People are anxious to see something happen.”

At this point, what will happen is still mostly undetermined. The city of Columbus has only completed research studies for traffic, water drainage and community feedback so far.

From the studies, the city has determined that the parking along the sides of West Broad Street will have to be relocated to public parking lots. Bike lanes will be placed into most of the area of the road currently occupied by parking spaces.

“We understand that there is a parking need on Broad Street,” said Steve Schmidt, design project manager for the city of Columbus. “To fulfill that need, one of the things we are pursuing is off-street parking alternatives. Public parking lots, some of the side streets are parkable, but we want to find public parking lots along Broad Street.”

Once the parking spots are removed, the city will also be able to place a second lane in both directions along the entire corridor that is being worked on. After the project’s completion, there will be two west bound lanes and two east bound lanes to help ease congestion during rush hour.

In addition to relieving traffic congestion, the project will reduce or eliminate ponding on the roadways on and around Broad Street through updated drainage systems.

How the corridor would look dominated the rest of the meeting and included a section of the meeting where residents could vote for certain aspects of the streetscape design.

“The way we sort of approached this is in terms of a modular system,” said Tony Slanec, director of central Ohio for OHM Advisors, a consulting group helping to design the streetscape for the city. “Think of it in terms of a Lego. Because of the different access points, the parking lots, the configurations of the different properties, we had to come up with a system that allowed us to be extraordinarily flexible but would also allow us to have some commonality to it.”

Basically, the system presented to the public is a single unit that would have repetitive sections depending upon the characteristics of that section of the road. Residential sections and commercial sections, for example, would have a different streetscape to allow for the maximum benefit to the business or the resident.

The different types of streetscapes, some with more concrete and bricks and others with more flowers and trees, were voted on by those attending the meeting. That feedback will be used to help the city and OHM determine what the corridor will look like.

All of this information and more is available at www.columbus.gov.

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