Pedestrian and cyclist path
Path proposed for north side of Route 161
The city of Columbus says it is looking to create a safe and accessible alternative for cyclists and pedestrians trying to navigate the busy West Dublin-Granville Road corridor.
It calls for the installation of a 10-foot-wide shared-use path on the north side of the road between Sawmill and Linworth roads.
And it goes an extra step in tying together the Olentangy Trail and the Dublin bike systems.
City officials and engineers laid out their plan last week in front of a packed room at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington.
The $2.5 million project would extend 2.2 miles, with a 28-foot-wide median strip separating the path from fast-moving cars and trucks, said Nick Popa, an engineer with the city.
"We don't have to tell that for pedestrians and bicyclists it's not the most comfortable environment," Popa said.
The Dublin-Granville path was a top-12 project in the city's Bicentennial Bikeways plan, a guide for bike facilities in Columbus, including shared-use paths, racks, lanes, signage and other amenities through 2028.
Still, the audience raised questions over the placement of the path and whether it should be built on the south side of the street, where there is more open land.
The north side, some contended, creates some safety issues. For example, the path would cross over several driveways and cross streets, creating more potential for brushes with automobiles.
John Panovsky of Korda Engineering, which the city hired to do several bikeways projects across Greater Columbus, said engineers looked at the south side of the street but hadn't fully studied it.
Officials said the north-side path would connect the most commuters with the most commerce.
And the design saves the bulk of commuters from having to cross Dublin-Granville.
However, crossings will be clearly marked, engineers said.
The audience also brought up the matter of land acquisition.
The project would encroach on properties that don't have much available land.
Marie Keister, a communications consultant hired by the city, said that median strip would narrow near Linworth Road, although the speed limit drops to 35 mph in that area.
Final engineering and design should be completed next year, followed by right-of-way acquisition in 2014. Construction should be completed in 2015.
Keister said the city is open to suggestions. So, a working group will be formed to take look at all of the options and offer recommendations on where the shared-use path will be located, Keister said.
The group, to be formed this summer, will be composed of Worthington, Perry Township, Columbus, and the Ohio Department of Transportation, and neighborhood residents.
The Northwest Side is becoming flush with new options for cyclists and pedestrians.
The city announced it intended to build a sidewalk along Godown Road from Bethel Road to Francisco Road, something that's been on a local wish list for years because it gives Centennial High School students a safe place to walk.
Also, a part of the Bicentennial Bikeways, the city will install shared-use paths on the west of Henderson Road from Reed Road to Olentangy River Road. That is expected to be done this year.
Rosemarie Lisko, a member of the Northwest Civic Association, said the windfall is encouraging but there still are a few gaps, such as the missing piece of the sidewalk on Kenny Road between Francisco and Henderson.
While the Northwest Area Plan calls for a bike path from Sawmill to Olentangy River Road, few thought it would be on the north side of the street, Lisko said.
"It's not that I'm not happy, it's just the south side would be preferable to the community," Lisko said.
"It doesn't make any sense. You have driveways, streets coming on.
"On the south side, you have nothing, just a few businesses."