OSU Transit Plan Proposes Big Changes for Campus
Ohio State has been working on a transit and parking plan meant to improve the flow of car, bicycle and pedestrian traffic on campus. The Comprehensive Transportation and Parking Plan (CTPP) – which was presented as a draft to the university’s Board of Trustees on November 6th – contains a lengthy list of recommendations, from extending Neil Avenue south of Woodruff Avenue to establishing a Campus Core Transit Circulator that would feature simplified routes and more frequent buses.
OSU spokesperson Dan Hedman explained that the goal of the plan is “the full implementation of the ‘Park Once’ principle,” referring to language from the university’s Framework Plan that called for a pedestrian-oriented core, with parking pushed to campus edges as much as possible.
“The CTPP builds upon Framework principles while providing a more in-depth look at transportation and parking needs on campus,” he said.
Some of the main elements of the plan:
- A Campus Core Transit Circulator would run in a loop along Woodruff, College Road, 11th Avenue, Neil Avenue, 17th Avenue, John Herrick Drive, and Cannon Drive. A separate loop would serve the Wexner Medical Center.
- Express shuttle buses would take commuters from outlying parking lots to central campus.
- A transit center, on 17th Avenue just north of the RPAC gym, would provide connections from COTA and other outside bus services to the circulator.
- Car traffic would be limited during peak times on 17th, 18th, 19th and Woodruff Avenues in order to improve the pedestrian and bike experience. Apart from the circulator on Woodruff, buses would not travel on those streets either.
- A new section of Neil Avenue – designed for buses and bikes only – is proposed to replace the existing pedestrian plaza between Woodruff and 19th avenues.
- 17th Avenue would be extended to connect Tuttle Park Place and Cannon Drive. This would allow the circulator to reach Lincoln and Morrill towers and would help get cars exiting nearby garages off campus more efficiently. A shared-use path is proposed to parallel the new road to the south.
- Neil Avenue south of campus would get a makeover; it would be widened, with some on-street parking removed and a transit lane for buses and bikes added.
- Bike sharrows are proposed for multiple roads, and a central bike station close to RPAC would allow for “enhanced” bike storage and other amenities. New shared-use paths would improve connections to west campus and to the Olentangy Trail.
Bike lanes were only recommended for streets that tie into the city’s bike lane system. “Research shows there have been mixed results with the safety of bike lanes,” said Dan Hedman, adding that, “the proposed system builds on the existing shared roads and shared-use paths to create a comprehensive bicycle network.”
The plan also considers the impact of a realigned Cannon Drive, which will mean the loss of about 2,100 parking spaces along the Olentangy River north of King Avenue. It proposes shifting much of that Wexner Medical Center parking to the Carmack lots (west of Kenny Road), and leaving the Buckeye lots off of Fred Taylor Drive for academic parking only. That solution would provide more parking for athletic events, since academic parkers are more likely than medical center workers to be home in the evening.
As for next steps, Hedman said the university and its consultants will be studying the recommendations more closely to determine their feasibility, although there is no timeline set. He cited the study of specific transit stops, bus routes, and new road connections as examples of the work to come.
Jennifer Evans-Cowely, the Vice Provost for Capital Planning and Regional Campuses, who has been involved in the planning process, said that another key element to be studied in the coming months is the possibility of bringing bike sharing to campus.
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