By Linda Dillman
Canal Winchester area bus riders will have a new place to catch a ride when the Central Ohio Transit Authority opens its new Park and Ride site between Gender Road and Winchester Pike later this year.
According to Lisa Myers, COTA’s public and media relations manager, the site will feature a pull-off area for passenger boarding, easy entry, extensive lighting, security cameras, a passenger shelter, a new access road and 164 parking spaces. Construction is expected to start in late spring and completed by the end of 2018.
“Commuters in Canal Winchester and other areas in southeast Franklin County have requested COTA service to downtown Columbus,” said Myers. “Congestion levels on U.S. 33 have increased in recent years and there is greater demand for transit service. COTA purchased the property at the intersection of Gender Road and U.S. 33 to develop a new Park & Ride facility.”
Myers said COTA currently serves the community with a Park & Ride on leased property and COTA’s Line 52 connecting to downtown operates from this location.
“COTA’s preference is to own Park & Ride facilities to ensure a permanent location for operations,” said Myers. “Owning the property allows COTA to design the Park & Ride with more customer amenities.”
COTA’s initial search for property near Canal Winchester began in 2012, with COTA purchasing the current parcels in 2014. Myers said the project took longer than other Park & Ride projects because of the work involved in purchasing the property, preparing two parcels of the property for sale, and constructing an access road.
COTA wanted to complete its new route network in 2017 before constructing the new Park & Ride. The new facility will feature access to U.S. 33 and 124 more parking spaces than the present leased site.
“COTA currently leases 40 parking spaces from the Gender Road Christian Church at 5336 Gender Road, one mile north of the U.S. 33 interchange,” said Myers. “When construction of the new Park & Ride is complete, COTA’s Line 52 operations will move to the new site. COTA has been leasing the property since late 2009.
She said COTA’s Line 52 Canal Winchester currently makes three trips in the morning and three trips in the afternoon. If demand increases additional trips may be added.
“The new Park & Ride will offer more parking spaces, more convenient access from U.S. 33 and expanded passenger amenities,” said Myers. “The property also provides the potential for future growth in service.”