The demise of the infamous "pinball" exit from northbound state Route 315 to West North Broadway is a done deal.
Libby Wetherholt, for one, is going to miss it.
"We all love that ramp," the chairwoman of the Clintonville Area Commission said. "It's fun, but it's not necessarily good for the neighborhood that it goes into."
CAC members, during their July 6 meeting, heard a presentation on improvements coming to the Olentangy River Road and North Broadway area as part of OhioHealth's relocation of its headquarters to land at the southeast corner of the two roads.
The project will include a new southbound exit ramp to West North Broadway and two new roads connecting to the headquarters, as well as new sidewalks and bike paths.
Michelle Larsen of Columbus' economic development division said the nickname "pinball," for what's technically Route 315's Exit 6C, came up early in the discussions of roadway fixes, and it stuck. The moniker refers to the way the extended exit ramp tends to launch vehicles onto North Broadway at high speeds.
But it won't be around for much longer, Larsen said last week, before the planned July 25 closing of the ramp.
Columbus City Council on July 17 approved the construction contract to remove that ramp. That portion of the project -- with a potential cost that could reach $40 million -- should begin by the end of this month or in early August, with completion estimated for late October, Larsen said.
Additional work -- to be funded via collaboration among the city, the Ohio Department of Transportation and OhioHealth to accommodate the latter's $89 million investment in a new 270,000-square-foot administrative office building on Olentangy River Road -- is expected to start in late spring or early summer 2018, Larsen said.
That does not include the timeline for a new southbound exit ramp off Route 315, she said. That involves bridge construction, which takes longer to plan.
"Substantially, the target is to get things ready and completed, end of 2018 and spring of 2019," Larsen said.
The removal of the extended ramp leaves drivers heading north on Route 315 with two options for reaching North Broadway.
Those who veer left off the exit ramp will cross under the freeway and pick up North Broadway in front of Riverside Methodist Hospital; those who veer right will exit onto Olentangy River Road and may turn left to reach the thoroughfare.
"There definitely are people who aren't happy about it, but there are two other choices for people traveling north to get onto North Broadway," Wetherholt said. "I can't name any other freeway that has three avenues of egress off of the freeway."
During Larsen's July 6 presentation, CAC members David Vottero and Khara Nemitz both voiced dismay that a bike and pedestrian bridge over the Olentangy River connecting northwest Columbus and Clintonville wasn't included in such a major project.
"It seems bizarre not to have that," Nemitz said during the meeting.
Currently, riders on the Olentangy Trail must use city streets between Clinton-Como Park and Northmoor Park, crossing North Broadway at Milton Avenue. The gap is the only one on the trail, which stretches from downtown Columbus to Worthington Hills.
The nearest trail bridges over the river are at Whetstone Park to the north and near Union Cemetery to the south.
Last week, Vottero said he plans to continue pursuing the matter.
"I'm going to try to reach out to the city's development department ... " he said. "I think there's a huge opportunity here for us to reach to connectivity of the Olentangy Trail that's been missing.
"I think it's a vital thing to Clintonville and to the much larger community. The Olentangy Trail is a very heavily traveled trail."
The District 1 representative termed a bike bridge as a "very unique opportunity to develop some connectivity between one side of the river and the other."
Larsen said the city "did an early look at the feasibility of a bridge or trail along the river, and that's just something we have to look at in the longer term."
"Having a pedestrian walkway on that side of the road would just allow people from Clintonville to access that area and allow more walkability ... " Wetherholt said. "We'll just have to see."