Upper Arlington News

Plans envision Tremont as 'Main Street' in UA

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Upper Arlington officials are eyeing sweeping changes to the Tremont Road streetscape designed to make it a community gateway with pedestrian and cycling amenities.

The Upper Arlington Engineering Division in recent weeks has worked with area businesses, residents and a landscape architectural firm in hopes of upgrading Tremont Road's aesthetics and functionality.

Last week, division officials and a representative of Columbus-based MKSK provided Upper Arlington City Council with an overview of the Tremont Road streetscape concept plan.

The plan examined current vehicle, bicycle and pedestrian traffic along the road, from its intersection with Zollinger Road to its intersection with Lane Avenue.

"There's an opportunity for it really to be the Main Street of Upper Arlington," said Matt McGrath, MKSK senior associate. "That was really what we were after."

No decisions have been made as to potential changes, and the concept plan presented to council didn't identify costs associated with various design proposals.

"We're looking at numbers right now," City Engineer Dave Parkinson said.

In addition to circulation needs for motorists and pedestrians, the concept plan looked at the possibility of establishing connections from community amenities along Tremont to surrounding land uses and opportunities to implement environmentally friendly design features.

'Kingsdale Reach'

In what was called the "Kingsdale Reach" -- roughly from Zollinger Road to Ridgecliff Road -- council was presented with options that call for establishing on-street parking, highlighting pedestrian crossings with brick or painted stripes and reducing curb cuts to allow for bicycle lanes.

"We could use paving to differentiate where the gateways would occur," McGrath said.

Moving south from Tremont and Zollinger to approximately Tremont and Ridgeview Road, the plan proposes moving sidewalks back so trees could be added along the road and a center turn lane could be installed. Additionally, an eight-foot-wide "multiuse trail" could be added on Tremont's south side.

From roughly Northam Road to Ridgeview, MKSK also said the sidewalk on Tremont could be moved back from the curb and trees could be added, along with parking on Tremont's east side, and pedestrian crossings could be highlighted.

"(We could) create bump-outs to make safer crossings where children walk," McGrath said.

From Northam to where Tremont converges with Abington and Redding roads, the plan calls for adding trees and adding parking on the east side of Tremont.

'Residential Reach'

Within Tremont's "Residential Reach South," from about Redding and Abington to Lane Avenue, there likely would be minimal changes, except for the possible inclusion of more trees.

Parkinson said the concept plan provides "a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make Upper Arlington a welcoming place for bikes."

Councilmen John C. Adams and Erik Yassenoff agreed, but favored more multiuse trails to reduce conflicts between motorists and cyclists.

"I would encourage more bike lanes, but get the bikers off the street," Adams said. "I would de-emphasize the on-street parking and put more emphasis on the bike part."

Councilman Mike Schadek, however, questioned whether the timing was right for work on Tremont, particularly given the city's ongoing struggles to find new revenue and meet the community's expectations for city services.

"Is now the time to be doing this, with these serious budget discussions we're doing?" Schadek said. "I think we need to tread cautiously."

Parkinson said the city currently has $2.475 million in its capital-improvement budget that could be used in 2015 to fund Tremont improvements, which could include some of the upgrades identified in the concept plan if approved by council.

Depending on what aspects of the project may be approved, it's anticipated the balance of improvements to Tremont wouldn't come until 2016.

"The businesses and developers have invested a great deal of money in that corridor," Parkinson said. "It is our business hub.

"This is the time to do it. The road needs something. If we're spending to fix it, we should do it now to show businesses and developers we're serious about keeping them here."

Upper Arlington Mayor and Council President Don Leach agreed, saying Tremont Road "currently is a disaster." He said he is excited about the prospect of a project along the road.

City Manager Ted Staton said he also generally supports upgrades to Tremont to improve traffic, walking and biking safety, and added those improvements would be valuable as the city continues to target medical office developments in the corridor.

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