Powell and Liberty Township took action last week in an attempt to relieve traffic after the closure of a segment of state Route 315 led to backups and frustration.
The Ohio Department of Transportation shut down Route 315 between Jewett Road and state Route 750 earlier this month to give workers room to install a retaining wall to prevent the Olentangy River from further eroding the roadway's slope. The decision immediately led to cars flooding onto nearby streets, paralyzing traffic flow at the Four Corners intersection in downtown Powell.
Powell City Council members June 20 voted unanimously to ban left turns from Liberty Street to Olentangy Street from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays until two weeks after the intersection of Route 315 and state Route 750 reopens. The city already prohibits left turns from Olentangy Street to Liberty Street during those days and hours.
Although some members of the public asked council to wait for more feedback from residents and downtown business owners before enacting the restriction, council moved ahead.
Vince Margello, a developer and downtown landowner, said he was shocked council approved the new restriction so quickly.
"I just think the businesses and the landowners downtown ... ought to be notified of this so they can at least give their input," he said.
Mayor Brian Lorenz said the city had been "dealt a difficult hand" by the closure and needed to act quickly to respond to residents' concerns.
"I don't like to pass things immediately without getting public input but I feel like ... I've been getting public input for weeks now since this closure started," he said.
City spokeswoman Megan Canavan said June 26 residents have been largely happy with the change and the improved traffic flow since the restriction took effect.
"We're receiving extremely positive feedback from the community," she said.
Canavan said signs noting the change, as well as signs guiding drivers toward routes that bypass the Four Corners, should be in place by the end of this week.
City police officers have been posted at the Four Corners and the intersection of Bennett Parkway and Liberty Street to help drivers navigate the roadways following the restriction.
On June 26, Liberty Township trustees approved up to $4,000 in spending to pay for a county sheriff's deputy to direct traffic at the intersection of Liberty and Jewett roads during rush hour on weekdays.
Township Administrator Matt Huffman said the township hopes to pay for a deputy to man the intersection until the end of Route 315's closure, which is expected to wrap up by the start of August.
Councilman Tom Counts said traffic at the intersection of Jewett and Liberty has been "the worst" since Route 315 closed and said relieving traffic at the crossroads would greatly benefit city and township residents.
"If there's ever a place for a police officer, that's it," he said.
Canavan said council will examine whether to make the turn restriction at the Four Corners permanent and extend it throughout the day after the project ends. Multiple council members stated earlier this month they favored a permanent ban on left turns at the intersection.