James Young, an engineer with the Columbus Public Service Department's Division of Design and Construction, has two words of advice for motorists who travel on Indianola Avenue after it receives the road-diet treatment in coming weeks.
"Be patient," he said at the July 6 meeting of the Clintonville Area Commission.
Construction has begun on the controversial project to slim down Indianola Avenue between East North Broadway and Morse Road from two travel lanes in each direction to one each, with a center turn lane and outside lanes for bicyclists.
The concept, paid for via the Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund, initially was endorsed by members of the area commission in June 2015, but the reality of what many motorists feel is a severe loss of capacity for the major artery in the neighborhood raised hackles as the actual work drew closer.
Young and Matthew Lorenz, a project manager with the public-service department as well as Urban Infrastructure Recovery Fund group leader, were on hand for the July session of the CAC to provide an update.
Resurfacing of the entire section of Indianola Avenue – something not included in the initial plans for the work – should begin in late July and continue through August, Lorenz said.
Repairs to some sections of pavement currently are taking place, he said.
What the project manager referred to as the "new arrangement," meaning the elimination of one travel lane each north and south, should be in place by the time school starts in late August.
Young cautioned that once the configuration is in place, it will take time for drivers to get used to it, and initially there may be some backups.
"Take your time," he said. "It's an adjustment at first."
The road diet not only offers better travel for people on bikes, Young said, but also improved safety for motorists and pedestrians by eliminating the number of lanes they must cross when making left turns and moving vehicles farther from sidewalks.
Dedicated turn lanes also assure that a travel lane won't be blocked by cars heading left, Young added.
Once the diet takes effect, timing for the traffic signals in that stretch of the street will change depending on the time of day, Lorenz said.
"We'll probably continually adjust it based on demand," Young said.
Judy Minister, the CAC's District 4 representative, asked if any traffic signals would be added, noting that at busy times, left turns can be difficult.
That's not in the scope of the project, Lorenz said, but city officials always are looking at whether signals need to be added or removed.
Randy Ketcham of District 6, who began asking for a road-diet update in late May after hearing from concerned constituents, sought assurances from the city representatives that rush hour won't become a nightmare once the configuration is in place.
While there may be problems initially, Lorenz said, monitoring of the timing for traffic lights should help with any backups.
He added the consultant hired for the project reported there should be no drastic reduction in service on that stretch, and in some cases a possible increase.
"I'm assuming it's going to work," Ketcham said.