Concerns about out-of-control speeding and heavy traffic on neighborhood streets led some Powell residents to fight the extension of Murphy Parkway to Liberty Street for years.
More than a year after the opening of the extension, many of those fears have subsided -- and with good reason, according to a traffic study completed earlier this fall.
Powell City Council on Dec. 5 received a report on the study from Doug Bender, an engineer with EMH&T, on the effects of the extension on speed and traffic on nearby streets. The firm conducted the study between Oct. 24 and Nov. 2 -- a little more than a year after the new stretch of roadway connecting Murphy Parkway southeast to South Liberty Street opened.
"We did a traffic study prior to construction and we promised we would do a post-construction traffic study in order to determine ... the impact of (the extension) both on Murphy Parkway and the surrounding area," City Manager Steve Lutz said.
Bender said the post-construction results indicate the new stretch of roadway is serving its purpose as a bypass of the Four Corners intersection of Olentangy and Liberty streets.
"First and foremost, the good news is things seem to be working fairly well," he said.
Bender said the extension has changed driving patterns for some travelers, which has led to changes in traffic volumes on neighboring streets.
The study found peak-hour, two-way traffic during the evening on Salisbury Drive, which intersects with Liberty Street south of Murphy Parkway, fell more than 25 percent after the extension opened. Unsurprisingly, the traffic that fled Salisbury Drive did not disappear.
Bender said study shows the opening of the extension led to "some cut-through traffic" migrating from Salisbury Drive to Donerail Avenue, Grey Oaks Drive and Presidential Parkway. The study shows Presidential Parkway saw the biggest change, with about five dozen additional cars driving on the roadway during the busiest hour of evening traffic.
"I think what we're seeing, traffic is adjusting to the network and folks are choosing the most-efficient ways to get through the network," he said.
Motorists' speeds stayed fairly consistent between the two study periods. Eastbound and westbound traffic averaged between 30 and 32 mph on weekdays in 2014 and 2017 on Murphy Parkway between Donerail Avenue and Grey Oaks Drive. Average weekday speeds fell slightly to about 20 mph on Presidential Parkway and about 28 mph on Grey Oaks Drive, according to the study.
"We didn't see people suddenly speeding through the neighborhoods," Bender said.
He said the study shows the level of service at Olentangy Street's intersections with Murphy Parkway and Liberty Street also improved slightly after the extension opened.
The study recommends the city continue to monitor traffic speed and volume on streets near the extension, "although there appears to be very little impact in the neighborhoods." The study also recommends the city defer any efforts to calm traffic on the parkway or neighboring streets.
Bender said traffic conditions at the year-old intersection of Liberty Street and Murphy Parkway likely will not necessitate a traffic signal for several years.