Olentangy Valley News

Murphy Parkway extension

Congestion relief trumps residents' worries

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The extension of Murphy Parkway will provide a much-needed bypass for commuters at the southwest corner of the congested Four Corners Intersection, Powell leaders say.

The planned project will extend Murphy Parkway to connect with South Liberty Street just east of its current terminus.

But some residents say they're worried it will direct more traffic through adjacent neighborhoods.

Several residents addressed Powell City Council at its March 5 meeting to voice concerns that the parkway extension will open the floodgates to through traffic.

Council heard a first reading of a preliminary construction plan for the road extension at the meeting, with a second reading and vote set for Tuesday, March 19.

Allison Kelly lives in the Woods of Sawmill subdivision, which connects to Murphy Parkway. She said her children walk or ride their bikes to Tyler Run Elementary School.

"My biggest concern is the safety of the kids if you put the extension in," she said.

She added the extra traffic may hurt the value of her home.

Stacey Haney lives on Grandshire Drive. She often jogs on her neighborhood streets and said children who play in the neighborhood aren't used to heavy traffic.

"It's just going to create total chaos," she said.

Several residents said they don't think traffic at the Four Corners intersection is a major problem, but Mayor Richard Cline said it draws more complaints than almost any other issue in the city.

Cline added traffic studies indicate few motorists will cut through neighborhoods. Most will use Murphy Parkway as a connection between South Liberty Street and West Olentangy Street, he said.

The majority of traffic passing through the area likely will continue to pass through the Four Corners intersection, he said. Only daily commuters are likely to use the bypass.

The current plan under consideration requires an additional study to be completed before construction, and another six months after the extension is in place.

If cut-through traffic becomes a problem, measures could be taken, such as prohibiting left-hand turns from Murphy Parkway onto Presidential Parkway, leaders said.

"But I'm reluctant to see that happen at the beginning of the process," Cline said. "The people who live in those neighborhoods are the ones who are most inconvenienced by those types of measures."

Relieving congestion also could help downtown businesses, Councilman Tom Counts said. Current traffic actually discourages patrons, he said.

The extension of Murphy Parkway has been in the works for more than a decade, but not until this year was the city able to secure the necessary funding.

Officials pledged to complete the project -- among other capital improvements -- if voters approved a 10-year, 1.8-mill property tax levy on the ballot in February. The issue passed easily.

Once it's complete, the bypass will provide an alternate east-west route south of the Liberty Road-Powell Road intersection, usually called the Four Corners. Bypasses already exist in the other three quadrants of the intersection.

The intersection can become so backed up at rush hour that it received an "F" rating from the Ohio Department of Transportation.

The absence of turn lanes is the primary cause of the congestion. Extra lanes might be added in the future, but only if bypasses are in place to serve as detour routes, council members said.

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