Powell City Council last week voted down an ordinance that would have further restricted the hours of left turns at the "four corners" intersection of Olentangy and Liberty streets.

Powell City Council last week voted down an ordinance that would have further restricted the hours of left turns at the "four corners" intersection of Olentangy and Liberty streets.

In the downtown area and at the intersection, both streets are one lane in each direction.

Vehicles turning left cause traffic delays, particularly during rush hour, city officials have said.

In 2002, the city began prohibiting left turns from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays at the intersection.

The proposed ordinance would have lengthened that time from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.

City manager Steve Lutz said, "The city drafted the ordinance to generate discussion of traffic at the four corners."

Congested traffic in the area has long been a concern, city officials have said.

Other solutions discussed over the years have included changing the traffic signals, installing turn lanes, and encouraging motorists to use alternative routes such as Bennett Parkway and Grace Drive.

A recent Powell community survey showed that 43 percent of those surveyed viewed traffic as the most important issue facing the city.

In 2007, preliminary estimates for constructing turn lanes on all four legs of the intersection were $1.5-million, not including engineering or environmental mitigation costs, Lutz said.

That estimate was an increase from 2005's estimate of $900,000, he said.

Lutz said the city owns the right of way in the area that would be needed to construct the turn lanes, but lacks the funds for such a capital project.

Tax-increment financing (TIF) in the area began bringing in funds this year, Lutz said.

During the next 12 to 18 months, as it becomes clear what revenue the TIF will bring in, the city will start prioritizing possible downtown improvements, such as extending the paver sidewalks or constructing turn lanes, he said.

The left-turn ordinance was developed as a possible interim solution to traffic congestion at the intersection.

Earlier this month, council heard from several area business owners who said that further restricting left turns could negatively affect their businesses, as customers would find it less convenient reach them.

The ordinance to extend the left-turn restrictions was defeated with all council members but Elmer Meider voting against it.

Meider said extending the restriction would buy the city time until it could afford to fund infrastructure improvements.

bbutcher@thisweeknews.com