Westerville News & Public Opinion

City Council debates planned roundabout

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A roundabout planned for a new roadway connecting Old Worthington Road to Polaris Parkway prompted debate among Westerville City Council during a Sept. 18 work session.

"I think it's confusing to drivers, and it scares me to think about people biking through it while drivers are trying to navigate the roundabout," said City Councilwoman Jenifer French. "I think I'm going to need some convincing that we need it there."

In June, council discussed the roadway, which would provide access to a proposed development currently before the Westerville Planning Commission.

At that time, Westerville staff told City Council it would see legislation to move forward with the $7.9-million roadway in September, with plans to begin construction early next year.

No questions were raised about the plan for a roundabout where a new north-south road road between County Line Road and Polaris Parkway would meet an east-west stub from Old Worthington Road to the west.

The proposed roundabout would be Westerville's first.

The Sept. 18 work session was organized with members of the Westerville Panning Commission, who raised concerns that the planned roadway would serve more as a north-south connector for people looking to avoid the often congested intersection of Polaris Parkway and Orion Place than as an access road for the proposed apartment development that would line it.

When the city began planning a roadway in that area about 10 years ago, it was viewed only as an access point for potential development, said city Planning and Development Director Karl Craven.

However, as traffic has increased and backed-up in the area, attention has turned more toward connectivity, Craven said.

Traffic projections show that about 15,000 cars would travel through the roadway each day, about the same level of traffic as McCorkle Boulevard, Craven said.

With that, the city must look at how it can keep a slow, safe traffic pattern in the area, Craven said.

Some ways the city could do that include posting the speed limit at 25 mph though the roadway is designed for 35 mph traffic, constructing a different colored median on the roadway and including on-street parking, Craven said.

It's believed that a roundabout also could help slow traffic, he said.

Councilwoman Diane Fosselman, however, said she worries that the roundabout, which would have only three entrances, would provide the opportunity for traffic to travel more quickly on the north-south route between County Line Road and Polaris Parkway.

"You're not really going around a roundabout. You're just skirting the edge of it, so I wonder about the traffic calming of it," Fosselman said.

Councilman Craig Treneff disagreed. He said he believes roundabouts have been used successfully in other cities in central Ohio and could work in Westerville.

"I actually like them myself. They take some getting used to by the public," Treneff said. "It moves traffic and yet kind of slows it at the same time."

To move forward with the roadway, Craven said City Council will be asked to vote on the annexation of three properties needed for the roadway by the end of this year.

Once the city finalizes what the roadway will look like, engineering work will be completed, Craven said.

Council will be asked to include the cost in its 2013 budget, and the city will bring forward contracts for tree removal in March and for construction in April, he said.

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