Hilltop Commission reviews transportation plan

By Josephine Birdsell
Staff Writer

The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is finishing its long range transportation plan and is accepting feedback on transportation issues across Columbus.

Thea Walsh, director of transportation and infrastructure development, spoke about the plan at the Dec. 3 Greater Hilltop Area Commission meeting.

The plan is revised once every four years. This term, the plan spans 30 years and covers transportation primarily in Franklin County and Delaware County, as well as urban areas of associated counties. MORPC expects to receive over $20 billion to allocate to projects over the next 30 years, Walsh said.

The plan will be finalized by July 1, 2020.

MORPC is now in the final stages of planning. The plan currently outlines major transportation projects across Columbus, including Bus Rapid Transit, a high speed busing system, and a hyperloop connecting Columbus to Chicago and Pittsburgh.

Five corridors are proposed for the Bus Rapid Transit: a corridor along East Main Street, a northeast corridor from downtown Columbus to the Polaris area, a northwest corridor from downtown Columbus to Dublin, a southeast corridor from downtown to the south end near Rickenbacker, and a corridor along West Broad Street coming out of downtown.

There is no exact timeline for the Bus Rapid Transit, however the busing system will most likely be functional within the next 10 years, said Walsh.

The system aims to help the city prepare for population growth. Central Ohio is expected to experience a population growth from two million to three million residents by 2050.

“Not everyone’s going to be able to drive a car or we’re going to have a gridlock,” said Walsh, “so ensuring that we have high performing transit systems is key in order to be able to move everybody and to encourage people to live close to their jobs.”

There is no timeline for the hyperloop connecting Columbus to Chicago and Pittsburgh, but MORPC hopes to see movement on the project by the 2020s and a fully realized transit system by 2050, said Walsh.

MORPC’s plan also accounts for smaller projects, like widening roads, improving existing bus routes and creating new bike paths.

The organization is taking suggestions from community members on projects they would like to see addressed. Suggestions should include specific locations for projects and details on the type of work needed.

“I cannot understate how important that feedback is to us (westside projects) getting funded,” Melissa Green, West Side Pride Center Manager said.

MORPC is holding a public open house on Feb. 26 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the MORPC office, 111 Liberty Road, to hear project suggestions from community members.

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