Several Columbus schools will be affected by a recently announced plan to reconfigure highway ramps in the downtown area.

Several Columbus schools will be affected by a recently announced plan to reconfigure highway ramps in the downtown area.

Carole Olshavsky, the district's senior executive for capital improvements, told the Columbus school board last week that the plan to reconfigure the I-70/I-71 corridor will mean the Africentric Early College, 300 E. Livingston Ave., will have to be revamped or moved to a new location.

In addition, the school's football and track field could be shut down for as long as two years.

Other schools that would be affected, however small, will be Fort Hayes Arts and Academic High School, the Downtown High School and Ohio Avenue Elementary School. A change in bus routes, drop-off points and increased noise levels will be the main culprits, she said.

"While the impact is minimal on most of these, the impact is significant at Africentric and the new Downtown High School," Olshavsky said. "This plan that they selected had much less impact on our sites than others they had considered."

The Ohio Department of Transportation announced late last month that it has settled on a $1.6-billion plan to revamp the highway corridor. The department said Mound and Fulton streets will be the routes to I-70.

The project is expected to start in 2012 and finish in 2017.

The plan calls for the district to hand over about two acres of Africentric's property, cutting through the school's athletic field.

ODOT has proposed that the school change the location of its football field and track.

However, Olshavsky said the proposed change could affect athletes.

"The orientation of the football field changes from a north-south orientation to an east-west, which creates some problems with sunlight as you're facing the sun and trying to kick or catch a football," Olshavsky said.

Olshavsky said the athletic facility is one of the largest in the district and able to accommodate sizable events.

Part of the parking for the facility would be eliminated as well.

"It loses some of its value by turning it east-west and that will certainly be part of our ongoing discussion with ODOT," Olshavsky said.

Olshavsky said Africentric has been on a list of buildings the district planned to renovate. However, because of the highway reconfiguration, any work had been put off.

The reconfiguration announcement will cause some problems for the district.

Olshavsky said there are several options the district can approach, but that many were not budgeted. One of the problems includes a lack of swing space, or unoccupied buildings where the district could move students.

If the district decided to renovate or relocate the current buildings at Africentric, students and staff would have to be relocated to swing space.

If the district decided to move the campus to a new location, it would have to purchase more property.

"With the right site we could rebuild the football field with the right orientation," Olshavsky said.

Olshavsky said ODOT's plan would cause the Downtown High School, 364 S. Fourth St., to change a parent drop-off lane, but that when the school was built the district had expected some change based on the thoroughfare reconfiguration.

"We've known for many years that this project was coming along so the design team has been very careful in designing the new building to allow for any of the plans considered by ODOT," Olshavsky said.

dcross@thisweeknews.com