Booster

N. Broadway turn lane

City now ready to move on project

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An obviously frustrated Nancy Kuhel, the District 2 representative on the Clintonville Area Commission, repeatedly asked Chairman Daniel B. Miller the same question at a special meeting devoted solely to the issue of a turn lane at East North Broadway and North High Street.

Why now, she wanted to know. Everyone on the once-contentious panel was getting along, she indicated. Why bring back up an issue that has long divided both the community and the commission?

Miller wouldn't answer the question at the March 21 meeting, during which a split commission voted once again to back the controversial project, and he wouldn't answer it last week.

"After the vote, I don't think it's appropriate to comment on that," Miller said.

He simply referred to a statement had made to the Columbus Dispatch for a Feb. 27 story in the wake of the chairman proposing a resolution backing the turn lane to be considered at the CAC's March 7 meeting.

Consideration of the matter was delayed to the special session later in the month as a result of Kuhel being absent due to illness.

"The mayor in March of last year decided that the issue squarely resided with the CAC," Miller told the Dispatch. "He put it on the commission to represent the interests of the community."

At the special session, which lasted three and a half hours, the resolution once again favoring installation of a turn lane allowing motorists heading west on East North Broadway to turn south onto North High Street was approved by a vote of 5-3, with Miller abstaining.

Miller said afterward that, in his capacity as chairman, he planned to vote only if he needed to break a tie.

District 3 representative and East North Broadway resident James R. Blazer II and District 6's Jennifer Kangas joined Kuhel in voting against the proposal.

Rob Wood of District 1, Dana K.J. Bagwell of District 5, Jason Meek of District 7, Kristopher Keller of District 8 and District 9 representative D Searcy voted in favor of it.

"I hope it's the final vote and I hope it goes forward," former District 1 representative Mike McLaughlin said last week.

McLaughlin headed up a task force that was formed nearly four years ago to look into problems at the intersection. The group eventually recommended, among other improvements, the addition of the left turn lane.

"We looked at it," he said last week. "We researched it."

Residents of historic East North Broadway have long objected to the project, saying it would only pave the way for the eventual widening of their street as far as Indianola Avenue.

McLaughlin was among those voting to adopt his task force's turn-lane plan at an August 2009 marathon session. The vote was 5-4 in favor of it, but after a slight change in the makeup of the panel, that recommendation was overturned by the same margin Oct. 26, 2011.

The North Broadway Street Association filed a lawsuit against the city and others on Nov. 10 of that year, seeking to permanently block the turn-lane project due to dispute over the existence of public right of way to build it.

"The lawsuit does not hinder our ability to address this issue," Dan Williamson, Mayor Michael B. Coleman's spokes-man, said last week.

"We'll be asking council to approve funding for the left turn lane," Williamson said. "It's my understanding that they've already done a lot of the work on this. They won't be starting from scratch."

"What is best for the people will always happen," McLaughlin said. "It might take a while, but it will always happen. I firmly believe that."

The city has $350,000 set aside for the project, according to Susan E. DeLay, capital im-provement projects manager. She said bid packages should go out in the middle or toward the end of the month. If bids come in higher than the amount set aside, funds are available to cover the extra costs, DeLay added.

A request to City Council to spend the money once a contractor is chosen should be made in July, prior to their August break, the projects manager said. Work should then begin in August or early September.

"It will be completed this year," DeLay said.

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