The highly anticipated extension of Gemini Place is open, and the Ohio Department of Transportation is working to make it function correctly.

The highly anticipated extension of Gemini Place is open, and the Ohio Department of Transportation is working to make it function correctly.

In a $10 million project headed by ODOT, Gemini has been extended from Orion Place to connect with Worthington Road just north of Westerville. The extension is meant to relieve some traffic from Polaris Parkway and accommodate the upcoming Ikea store.

The roadway officially began operation Oct. 13, but ODOT officials quickly realized they had work to do. Spokeswoman Nancy Burton said the following three weekdays were spent analyzing traffic patterns and reworking the intersection.

She said the second and third days of operation are when the real work can begin to fix an under-performing intersection.

"Any time there's a major change like a new road or bridge or ramp and what is set out to happen didn't exist ... the very first day, we don't do a lot of (immediate) tweaking, even if it's horrible," she said. "On the second day, for the motoring public, there will be a percentage that say 'I'm not going to do that again,' and choose a different route."

Burton said crews were on the scene "observing and making some adjustments" and ODOT saw improvement between Oct. 14 and 17. But she said efforts at any intersection requires multiple rush hours before they're finalized.

"We have to watch several commutes, rather than jumping to a conclusion after the first morning drive," she said. "So we're currently in that stage of it where we are making adjustments."

Tweaks to the intersection usually include changing light sequences or adding signs to inform drivers.

But ODOT is also looking into how many people even realize the street is functioning.

"We can also look at -- since this is a new road -- do people understand that it's now open? Do we need to put add signage to tell people? You can't assume everybody knows," Burton said. "But the majority is tweaking with traffic signals to give the higher volumes more time."

The final phase of the project is closing the northern portion of Worthington Road past the extension. That part of Worthington Road should be closed until December, though Burton said ODOT hopes work will be finished sooner.

While traffic isn't ideal yet, she said ODOT has high hopes for what the extension could do for congestion in the area, especially during rush hour.

"Suddenly, it's another option for the corridor to go east-west," she said. "So the positive is that we are hoping that there's some traffic relief on Polaris, because Polaris can get pretty backed up. We want to be sure that ... the development stays there and congestion doesn't drive them away."

@ThisWeekAndrew