The primary gateway into German Village could be marked with retail businesses or elaborate greenspace, as the Interstate 70/71 interchange project takes shape.
The Third Street bridge, from Fulton Street to Livingston Avenue, could include space for a landscaped park or as much as 120 feet -- 60 feet on each side -- for a cap, should a developer come forward with retail plans.
Meanwhile, the Fourth Street bridge is slated to have decorative landscaping, sidewalks and parking, but it will not be equipped for a retail cap.
The Ohio Department of Transportation, which has been working with the public on the interchange concept for several years, recently shared its plans for the bridges that cross I-70 between South Side neighborhoods and downtown Columbus.
The $59-million project, known as Phase 4B, won't begin until 2023.
The improvements would not only make the roads more functional but also aesthetically pleasing, said Nancy Burton, a spokeswoman for ODOT.
"Reconnecting many of these neighborhoods with downtown and hiding the interstate does create a gateway that is safer and more comfortable," Burton said.
Bill Curlis, the German Village Society's liaison to the interchange project, said officials are happy overall with the look of the Third Street bridge because it accomplishes a main task: hiding the freeway from the street level.
"The bottom line is, we're very pleased with what they've come up with the design of the Third Street bridge," he said. "The Fourth Street bridge is less attractive than the Third Street bridge but it covers more of the freeway and we're happy about that."
Curlis said he likes the idea of a retail cap but worries that such a development would create more parking issues in the area.
He also expressed concern about taking care of the green space, since once ODOT completes the project, the city of Columbus would be responsible for its maintenance.
German Village is trying to set its own course for the South Third Street corridor, considered the gateway into the neighborhood. For example, the city is conducting a preliminary engineering study of the street between East Livingston and Reinhard avenues.
The study will look at sidewalks, streets, curbs and lights, and identify ways to maintain and improve those amenities.
"We look forward to the Third Street bridge as the new gateway into German Village," said Shiloh Todorov, executive director of the German Village Society.
"The park-like look between downtown Columbus and German Village will make for a great connector for our neighborhood and the city center," she said. "Our own Third Street revitalization project, now under study by engineers, will be amplified by the new bridge."