So I guess we will not get a highway project any time soon. The headlines of the past two weeks have put me on a fast-track learning curve to figure out what the nearby freeway means to our neighborhood and our neighbors.

So I guess we will not get a highway project any time soon. The headlines of the past two weeks have put me on a fast-track learning curve to figure out what the nearby freeway means to our neighborhood and our neighbors.

It turns out that German Village has a long and storied history with the highways. I'm sure many of you could tell this story in much greater detail than I, but for those of us who are new to German Village, here's what I've learned:

It is fair to say that without I-70/71, there would likely be no German Village Society. The Ohio Department of Transportation's leveling of homes and businesses on the south side of downtown Columbus, in an area that would become German Village, prompted Frank Fetch and a group of concerned residents to petition the city to create its first preservation community and a protective commission to control all future development. German Village itself was born as a response to the urban renewal frenzy to tear down the old without reflection on the legacy of the past and the opportunity to preserve that legacy.

Fast forward to 2002 and ODOT began plans to reconfigure the freeway to fix a stretch of road that is one of Ohio's most prone to accidents and fatalities. Appeals by the German Village Society at that time to the state and city leaders brought participation and "stakeholder" recognition by ODOT and the federal highway agency as they made plans for rebuilding.

An early draft of ODOT's plans called for Fulton Street and Livingston Avenue to be used as traffic collector streets taking all vehicles into downtown Columbus and German Village from the freeway below to city streets above.

By 2007, GVS advocates convinced ODOT that Livingston Avenue was too close to our historic district and preserved homes, so freeway-ramp routes were moved to Mound and Fulton streets.

The latest version of the Mound/Fulton plan has an exit from the freeway at Parsons Avenue and an eastbound entry at Grant Street, with a westbound entry and a westbound exit at approximately Short Street.

Imagine how that made our Third Street vendors feel. Nervous would put it too mildly.

Catherine Adams, purveyor of European housewares at Caterina Ltd. and a German Village resident, said she estimates that a third of her business comes from out-of-town visitors.

"I have referred to German Village as a 'high-class truck stop,'" Catherine told me last fall. "It is a frequent rest stop for people traveling between Indianapolis and Pittsburgh, and between Cincinnati and Cleveland. The exit ramps make it easy to stop, stretch your legs, get a sandwich at Katzinger's or a pastry at Pistacia Vera, and peruse Caterina Ltd. or The Book Loft or the Golden Hobby Shop. And since they're traveling by car, there are few restrictions about what they can take with them, so they often do buy."

When ODOT suddenly put the brakes on the plan last week, Catherine and others were relieved.

"When I saw that in the paper, I went, 'Woo-hoo!'" Katzinger's Diane Warren told a local TV statio - and later asked if I could somehow add her jubilant audio to this column. "I was so glad to see that they were putting this off."

"Eliminating so many access points to German Village was inevitably going to hamper business in German Village," Catherine told me.

Lindey's restaurant management got nervous, too. Managing partner Todd Cumbow said he was afraid people would avoid downtown during construction.

If there's a silver lining to such struggles - and there always is - it may be the partnerships that spring up. During the nine years this I-70/71 project has been under discussion, German Village has had a chance to strengthen its relationship with Nationwide Children's Hospital. The hospital, after all, was on the cusp of becoming our welcome wagon to freeway drivers. The hospital has a Good Neighbor Agreement program with a large group of south- and east-side neighbors and we all get together quarterly to talk about issues facing us.

The GNA group hasn't had much time to reflect on the construction pause, but we're already strategizing how to use this time wisely. Rather than sit back and wait for ODOT to surge forward again, I think our neighbors will hold hands with us to fight for greener, more aesthetically pleasing bridge spans. The bridge design piece of the project is still moving forward, and now is the perfect time to focus our collective energies on affecting the design and use of our bridges from downtown.

And for me, more reasons to meet and collaborate with neighbors is the draw to this job. Let's get to work together. If you want to get directly involved, join the GVS streetscape committee. The committee is using this time to prepare German Village for a new traffic flow - and it would welcome your input.

Shiloh Todorov is director of the German Village Society.