City residents will have to wait to see whether the temporary ban on left turns during evening rush hour at downtown Powell's Four Corners intersection becomes permanent.
Powell City Council in mid-June banned left turns from Liberty Street to Olentangy Street from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Left turns already were banned during those times from Olentangy Street to Liberty Street.
Council made the move in an attempt to ease traffic congestion near the city's downtown about a week after the Ohio Department of Transportation closed state Route 315 south of state Route 750 to build a new retaining wall. The closure, which is expected to end in early August, has led to more traffic being squeezed onto already-busy routes in southern Delaware County.
Powell leaders said the city's initial response – instituting new turn restrictions and posting police officers to guide traffic at two downtown intersections for evening rush hour – has led to easier commutes for residents.
"I think what's been done to this point has been a phenomenal response to an urgent issue," Councilman Frank Bertone said.
The public's response to the changes included multiple emails and social media posts directed toward city officials asking for the turn restrictions to be made permanent and expanded throughout the day.
While multiple council members have spoken in favor of permanent turn restrictions in the past, city officials expounded on the virtues of a more-reserved approach after the new restrictions went into effect.
Vice Mayor Jon Bennehoof, who has been a vocal proponent of a permanent left-turn ban, said he's willing to wait to see how upcoming traffic changes play out before pushing to make the change.
The current turn restriction is set to expire two weeks after the intersection of Route 315 and Route 750 reopens in early August. The city also expects to install a new traffic signal at Grace Drive and Olentangy Street just east of the Four Corners early next month.
Bennehoof said the feedback to the change so far has been "overwhelmingly positive." He said he wants to make sure that holds true after the new signal is introduced and Route 315 reopens.
"I think we need to take this a bite at a time," he said.
City spokeswoman Megan Canavan said downtown business owners and Powell residents will have a chance to give feedback at a public meeting before a final decision is made on the turn restriction. She said such a hearing had not been scheduled as of July 7.
Council on July 5 voted unanimously to appropriate $40,000 to pay for additional operating and personnel costs for the police department during the closure.
Multiple council members suggested seeking financial support from ODOT during the closure, which is east of city limits in Liberty Township. The township is paying the Delaware County Sheriff's Office to post a deputy at the intersection of Jewett Road and Liberty Street during the closure.