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City Set to Unveil Transportation Recommendations

Brent Warren Brent Warren City Set to Unveil Transportation RecommendationsPhoto by Walker Evans.
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After a year and a half of public meetings, provocative ideas, and at least one significant delay, the City of Columbus is set to unveil the final recommendations of their Connect Columbus initiative.

The draft proposals — which will cover the full range of transportation policies, including new standards for street width, ideas for bike lanes, and a list of preferred “premium transit corridors” — will be presented at three meetings held tonight and tomorrow.

Those attending the meeting will have the opportunity to comment on the recommendations. Opportunities for feedback will also be available through the city’s Connect Columbus website and social media channels. This represents the last chance for public input before the plan is finalized.

Patti Austin, Planning and Operations Administrator for the Department of Public Service, summarized the main objective of the initiative when it first began in March of 2015:

“Over the next 20 to 40 years, we’re going to be investing billions of dollars into the street system – do we want to do it haphazardly, or in a way that looks at everything comprehensively? We think it’s worth taking the time to get a great list of priority projects and to get a street infrastructure plan in place for the future.”

Planning firm Nelson Nygaard has served as the lead consultant for Connect Columbus.

meetingsHere are the details on the three public meetings:

Wednesday, Nov. 16
5 – 8 p.m.
Whetstone Park Shelter House
3901 N. High St.
Columbus, Ohio 43214

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
STAT Room
77 North Front St.
Columbus, Ohio 43215

Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016
5 – 8 p.m.
Westgate Shelter House
Columbus, Ohio 43204

 

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  • 4N6science

    Honestly, I think anything less than improving what infrastructure we have now, plus adding some sort of light rail/streetcar (something small to start, i.e downtown to aiport, downtown to campus via high st) will be a let down for this city. I’ve lived in Columbus for the past two years and have seen so much growth, I’m truly astounded. I love the progress that is being made but I think Columbus as a city needs to make some big moves now in order to position itself to be a great city with the influx of people. Light rail is desperately needed, especially when one or two big events are occurring downtown at the same time. Even normal rush hour and a Bluejackets game can snarl everything in the arena district/short north. I’m hoping for the best, but expecting that light rail will be “too expensive” or “no one will ride it” and if that happens, Columbus is missing a huge opportunity to become a great city.

    • tommy hecker

      So go to the meeting. Just preaching to the choir here.

      • jman

        This is long, long overdue. We need light rail, AND improved bus service, as well as forward thinking, new, experimental modes of transportation.

    • mr.smith.

      i don’t understand the appeal of light rail, honestly. I get that it’s symbolic of “we’ve made it as a major city”, similar to pro sports teams and fortune 500 companies , but its expensive, inflexible, and the routes create major winners and losers.

      I’m not saying it doesn’t have value- it’s cool in Portland and Baltimore – but I’m just not convinced it’s what Columbus needs. I also worry that self-driving cars (admittedly many years away) will make light-rail less popular with their target demographics – probably middle class people trying to get downtown, to OSU, and to the airport.

      i can’t dismiss that the Columbus metro area is growing a lot, and there are lots of new areas with greater density – like the short north and jeffery park. There would be some demand for light rail among middle-class folks. I’m just not convinced that’ll carry the system and make it more valuable to Columbus than alternative transit investments.

      • 4N6science

        I kind of understand where you’re coming from. But I think the best way forward for Columbus is transportation options. Self-driving cars really doesn’t answer the problem for moving people around because it’s just cars on highways, so there will still be traffic and congestion.

        What do you think is the best way for Columbus to handle the rapid growth we are seeing?

        • CB_downtowner

          Self-driving cars can help move people around. My understanding is that the biggest value of self-driving cars is last mile connectivity. I don’t think they’re intended to go on highways. They’re intended to help transport people to transit stops. Not saying it’s the answer, but it could be a big part of the answer.

          • http://www.columbusunderground.com Walker Evans

            Self-driving cars will definitely go on highways. Perhaps the Smart Columbus pilot program is to treat them as transit-connector shuttles, but that is not the long-term plan as to how they will operate all throughout the world.

          • CB_downtowner

            I don’t disagree. I am mainly addressing the original comment that self-driving cars don’t answer the problem of moving people around. And to the general sneering at Columbus’ current proposal to test out self-driving cars. As long as as test self-driving cars to complement mass transit, I love the idea and am ecstatic that we’re trying things out. And I won’t assume we’re wanting self-driving cars on highways until I actually see a proposal that includes that. But yes, if we see that focus on publicly funded self-driving cars as an alternative vs. a complement to mass transit, then I agree it’s not my favorite path.

            I am a supporter of rail and self-driving cars and don’t view them as mutually exclusive. If anything, the right self-driving car system sounds like it can help solve the problem of rail inflexibility.

          • http://www.columbusunderground.com Walker Evans

            I agree with you, and I would also love to see both self-driving cars and public transit working in tandem, but I’m skeptical that we’re going to see it with our current city and regional leadership. We’ve got a lot of important people doing backflips to secure millions in funding from government and private sources to get self-driving cars off the ground here. And none of them are really doing anything about rail-based transit.

            The application for the Smart Cities grant flat out says “The City of Columbus plans to leap-frog fixed rail”, and Columbus Partnership President Alex Fischer has reiterated those comments in public meetings.

            Sounds like we’re taking the mutually exclusive approach.

  • Jaye Moore

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/914856eb1728411748e4a116bcc4174b38cce8b793df34ebd95940a7e523b218.jpg

    Lets use the existing freight lines that are not being used. I believe the visual is attached. Shot out to the brother who composed the imagery.

    • jman

      Yes!!! Very nice.

  • Jaye Moore

    I also believe Cota should create a simulated video showing the trains moving around the city, picking people up at train stations, dropping them off at events. Then follow up with a permanent operating levy exclusively for our light rail system.

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