City announces plans to remove Westside traffic signals

By Noell Wolfgram Evans
Staff Writer

The city of Columbus plans to remove several traffic signals from the Westside.

At the May 9 meeting, city representatives presented the plan to the Greater Hilltop Area Commission.

Dan Williamson and Ryan Lowe, both from the city of Columbus, addressed the imminent removal of four traffic signals on the Westside. The signals that will soon be gone are located at The Central Point Shopping Center at Mound Street, Binns Boulevard and Mound Street, Richardson Avenue and Mound, and Larcomb Avenue and Mound Street.

Lowe explained that lights are targeted for removal because the intersections that they stand at no longer meet federal guidelines for the amount of traffic or due to a change in traffic patterns.

“We have to study an intersection any time there is a project that will affect it that has federal funds tied to it,” Lowe said.

The city is currently in year five of a 10-year plan to run fiber to every traffic signal which will create a connected traffic control system. This project is being completed with federal funding which means that during its completion every traffic signal in the city would be studied for its continued viability.

Williamson said, “If it seems like we are targeting lights on the Westside, that’s only because the fiber project is being installed here now so we are studying all of the lights in this area.”

The lights at Central Point and Larcomb are being removed because they did not reach the threshold required for traffic signal placement. Those signals will be set to flash by the middle of June and removed 90 days after that.

The Binns and Richardson signals were actually scheduled to be removed last fall, but because of the Mound Street project, community leaders asked the city to extend that time frame.
With that project wrapping up, the signals will be set to flashing on May 15 and removed a week later.

In other safety news, Michael Huggins spoke to commissioners and residents on his duties as a code enforcement officer. Huggins shared statistics that in 2016, his team was able to assist in the eventual demolition of 84 Westside houses that had been abandoned and neglected.

In the first five months of this year, Huggins said that 14 homes are slated for demolition or have already started the process, while eight others are currently under demolition consideration.

Working on abandoned homes is just one of many areas that Huggins and his team try to monitor.

“The Hilltop can be extremely busy,” Huggins said “There are one-third more code violation complaints here than in any other area in the city.”

Danielle Webber, code enforcement supervisor, was quick to note that residents should not hesitate to call 311 and lodge any code violation concerns that they may have.

“Be really detailed, with locations, times the violation may be occurring. The more information the better,” Webber said.

Pre-k Program

“Pre-k levels the playing field – low income, new Americans, middle income, the wealthy – they all can get the same benefits and strong start from a quality pre-k program,” said Matthew Smydo, assistant director, city of Columbus Department of Education.

Joining Smydo at the commission meeting was the city of Columbus Director of Education, Rhonda Johnson. The pair spoke about the directive made by Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther at his State of the City address to double the number of 4-year-olds enrolled in a quality pre-k program.

The Hilltop currently has the lowest pre-k enrollment anywhere in the city.

“Every 4-year-old in the city should have access to a high quality, pre-kindergarten experience,” Johnson said. “Every 4-year-old deserves to have a good start in life. Lower income children benefit two-times as much as middle income kids from pre-k.”

“It’s not only where they learn basics, but also what we would call ‘soft skills,’” Smydo added.

To meet the mayor’s goals, the department is turning to the community for guidance on the types of programs that might be most successful.

Johnson said, “We want to hear from you, we want to listen. We don’t want to make assumptions on what’s best for you and your kids.”

Those with ideas and suggestions on how to build a stronger, more attractive pre-k program in the Hilltop can contact the department of education at (614) 645-1688.

Community members can share ideas on education and just about anything else at an upcoming Columbus City Council Community Meeting. On May 24, members of City Council will hold a community meeting at Glenwood Recreation Center from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

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  1. Keep the traffic light at Westgate. There are 2 schools in the vicinity where children cross at that intersection.


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