Motorists trying to turn left on Fodor Road from New Albany Road during peak travel time may soon have an easier time if a planned roundabout is constructed this fall.

Motorists trying to turn left on Fodor Road from New Albany Road during peak travel time may soon have an easier time if a planned roundabout is constructed this fall.

"It will improve access for people who are living in that area and will help with traffic in that area," said Rory McGuiness, assistant director of the Columbus Department Public Service.

The intersection is in the Columbus city limits. The last section of right of way was obtained April 25 when the New Albany-Plain Local school board approved a 0.028-acre permanent easement and a 0.256-acre temporary easement for land on the south side of the intersection.

McGuiness said the Kroger Co. has agreed to pay $130,000 toward design costs and $1.2 million in construction costs, with construction costs being reimbursed through a tax-increment financing (TIF) district set up in Columbus about two years ago, said Tom Rubey, development director for the New Albany Co. A TIF is an economic development mechanism available to local governments to finance public infrastructure improvements and, in certain circumstances, residential rehabilitation, according to the Ohio Department of Development. A TIF works by locking in the taxable worth of real property at the value it holds at the time the authorizing legislation was approved.

Rubey said the New Albany Co. is involved because it sold land to Kroger with deed restrictions that precluded Kroger from adding a gasoline station without company approval.

When Kroger wanted to build the gas station behind Burger King, Rubey said, NACo and Kroger officials discussed improvements to Fodor and New Albany roads. The intersection already is busy during peak travel times and traffic was expected to increase when the gas station was built.

When Fodor Road was built more than 15 years ago, right of way was set aside for a traffic signal and extra lanes. But Rubey said NACo and Kroger officials decided a roundabout might be a better solution because it requires less pavement and seems to work well in nearby areas, such as at Morse Road and U.S. Route 62.

Rubey said the Fodor Road roundabout would be the first built in Columbus and NACo is continuing negotiations on specifics of the roundabout. McGuiness said construction is slated to begin on the project in September.

The New Albany-Plain Local Schools District easement also required negotiations with the state since the easement is within a buffer zone on the edge of an 80-acre wetlands preserve. It includes 30 acres of wetlands created when the state Route 161 bypass of New Albany was built in 1996.

Because wetlands were destroyed during the road project, state law requires the replacement of wetlands at another location. After monitoring the wetlands for several years, the state agreed to allow the school district to take control of the site in 2005, which is how the property came to be deeded to the district.

A leisure path running along the south side of Fodor Road must be moved for the roundabout project. Though no wetlands will be affected by the path being moved to the south, the Ohio Office of Environmental Services is requiring that the new path be built with permeable pavers or permeable blacktop and trees be planted 30 feet apart and 30 feet from a new fence to be installed in the area. Also, the city of Columbus must provide "good erosion and sediment control practices with the installation of the new trail so the wetlands will not be affected by construction," according to the information from the state.