At a public meeting last week, city of Columbus staff maintained that adding a left turn lane to East North Broadway at North High Street would increase the efficiency of the intersection and reduce cut-through traffic on side streets.

At a public meeting last week, city of Columbus staff maintained that adding a left turn lane to East North Broadway at North High Street would increase the efficiency of the intersection and reduce cut-through traffic on side streets.

The intersection now has an "E" rating from the city, a failing grade, and drivers wait an average of 59 seconds, which is high by city standards, said Patricia Austin, transportation division administrator.

Widening East North Broadway by 10 feet between North High Street and Broadway Place to create a left turn lane, a lane for through traffic and a lane for right-turn and through traffic would increase the intersection's rating to a "D," which the city strives for, and reduce average wait time to 50.8 seconds, Austin said.

The fix also would decrease cut-through traffic on side streets, Austin said, and reduce dangers from illegal left turns at the intersection.

Around 15 city staff members, including Department of Public Service Director Mark Kelsey and Department of Development Director Boyce Safford attended the meeting March 18 to present information on the intersection and clear up any confusion about the city's proposal.

"We saw a lot of e-mails going around with a lot of misinformation, a lot of confusion and a lot of emotion," Safford said.

Safford said the city responded to concerns over pedestrian safety on side streets in 2002 with an allocation of Urban Infrastructure Recovery Funds to add traffic calming measures to streets south of the intersection.

Complaints continued despite those measures, prompting the city to look for the cause of the traffic, Safford said. He said city engineers determined problems stemmed from the intersection of East North Broadway and North High Street.

With no left turn lane on East North Broadway, Safford said cars were cutting through the neighborhood streets, looking for ways to turn south on High Street, or were making illegal turns at the intersection.

Despite neighborhood claims that the city based the proposed left turn lane on a one-hour observation of the intersection, Austin said city engineers have spent countless hours observing traffic in the neighborhood over the years that residents have complained about traffic problems.

"Our engineers have been out there for hours and days and different days, and we've done different counts," Austin said.

She said engineers have observed drivers using side streets to access southbound High Street, turning into the Starbucks parking lot to turn left onto High Street and making illegal turns.

There also was an injury accident in 2006 because of an illegal left turn, and there has been an increase in sideswipe accidents at the intersection.

While there have been calls for a comprehensive neighborhood traffic study, Austin said she trusts that her staff has enough information to propose a fix for the intersection.

"We can, with the expertise we have here, quickly assess through our observations what the problem is and what a likely solution could be," Austin said. "We don't think we need any more studies."

The city's proposal would create a 100-foot left turn lane with a 220-foot taper on East North Broadway between North High Street and Broadway Place. At the intersection, the road would be widened on the north side by 10 feet, which would then narrow to the street's current width.

The widening would require the removal of two trees and would affect Starbucks and three homes, Austin said. The land used falls within the city's current right-of-way.

The estimated cost is $380,000. If approved, the project would go through the design stages this year and be constructed next year.