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City Looking at Raising Speed Limits in Short North

Brent Warren Brent Warren City Looking at Raising Speed Limits in Short North
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A collection of streets in the Short North that have had “temporary” speed limits of 25 miles per hour for nearly 20 years may soon see those limits raised. The affected streets are Third, Fifth and King Avenues from Olentangy River Road to High Street, as well as Neil Avenue from Goodale Street to King Avenue.

Rick Tilton of the city’s Department of Public Service said that the 25 mph limits are “currently not enforceable by police,” explaining that the department will be sending their recommendations to ODOT early in 2014, pending approval by City Council. The recommendations are based on speed studies conducted by the city.

Information presented to the Transportation and Pedestrian Committee – an advisory body that will eventually issue a recommendation to the Director of Public Service on the matter – indicated that the city would be recommending 35 mph limits for Fifth Avenue, and a 30 mph limit for Third, King and Neil Avenue.

Jeff Smith, President of the Short North Civic Association, is concerned about the effect such a change will have on the neighborhood.

“We are looking for a comprehensive solution that takes into account speed limits, traffic signal timing, pedestrian access and safety, and bicycle access and safety,” he said.

The speed limits were first lowered in 1995 in response to residents’ concerns that the Spring/Sandusky interchange project could bring a flood of new traffic into the neighborhood. The city needed to get approval from the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) for those changes because the streets are designated as thoroughfares (Ohio code states that the default speed limit for any thoroughfare is 35).

When work on the interchange was completed, in 2005, ODOT requested that the temporary limits be lifted. The city did not change them back at that point because they were in the process of installing traffic calming infrastructure on the streets. The completion of that project is what is bringing the issue to the forefront again – almost 20 years after the initial change in speed limits.

The civic association has argued in the past that the city could simply re-designate one or more of the streets as neighborhood streets. If they are no longer “through-highways”, according to the state ordinance, 25 mph would be the default speed and no speed study or approval from ODOT would be required to make that the permanent speed. That and other issues will be taken up at a meeting being hosted by the civic association at 6:30pm on January 13th at the Goodale Shelter House.

For ongoing discussion on the speed limit increase, CLICK HERE to visit our Messageboard.

Photo by Walker Evans.

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