A study aimed to prepare the region for anticipated growth by focusing on the future of five specific corridors, including one in northwest Columbus, is at about the halfway point, according to Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission Senior Planner Jennifer Noll.
Noll, who was the guest speaker at the May 2 meeting of the Northwest Civic Association, said last week the five corridors being examined as part of the overall Insight2050 project were chosen because they fall into different, but sometimes overlapping, aspects of future development.
The corridors include sections of central Ohio that are experiencing growth already and face a need to alleviate congestion, that offer a plethora of redevelopment possibilities and that need major transportation improvements.
"Even more importantly, they tend to be representative of more corridors," Noll said. The study will look at mass transit, light rail, autonomous vehicles and others modes and measures that can benefit moving and anticipated increase of residents, employees and customers through the corridors in a more efficient manner.
The Northwest corridor, which stretches from U.S. Route 33 at Post Road and Frantz Road to downtown Columbus and includes Olentangy River, Bethel and Sawmill roads, falls into the category of building on the success of already coping with growth while looking to avert traffic congestion from even more development, according to the senior planner.
Insight 2050 is a public-private partnership between MORPC, the city of Columbus, the Central Ohio Transit Authority and other entities aimed at preparing the region for an anticipated influx of 1 million more people over the next three decades.
"The entire region needs to be prepared for this growth," Noll said.
But what if at least part of the region doesn't want this growth?
That was the question posed by local resident Mary Jo Napoli at the Northwest Civic Association's May meeting. She wanted to know if anyone was involved in this planning for the future who wouldn't in some way profit from growth in the region, indicating she lives in that part of the city because she likes it the way it is.
"If growth is coming, why not take advantage of the opportunity to benefit from it?" Noll replied.
She said the region stands to lose out if preparations aren't made for inevitable population growth.
"Change for all of us is scary," Noll said last week. "We truly understand that. When we just hear about these numbers without any context, it can be overwhelming to find out that kind of development is coming to the area."
Noll said she appreciated Napoli's question.
"Truly the questions we receive help us as much as we hope our answers help people asking them," she the said.
Nick Cipiti, president of the civic association, invited Noll to come back to a future meeting as Insight2050 progresses.
The corridors study was launched in fall 2017 and it is expected to be completed by this fall, according to Noll, so it's at about the midway point.
"We're still in that process of data gathering," Noll said. "All of that is going to be put together here in the months ahead to produce the analysis for this corridor study."
The other four corridors being studied, according to a fact sheet on the website for the overall project, are:
* East Main Street from state Route 256 to downtown Columbus.
* The Northeast Side from Polaris Parkway to downtown Columbus.
* The Southeast Side from Rickenbacker International Airport to downtown Columbus.
* West Broad Street from Norton Road to downtown Columbus.