Worthington's bike and pedestrian master plan and "complete-streets" policy almost are finished, according to city officials and consultants.

Parks and recreation director Darren Hurley said the city began working on both initiatives last summer.

"The timing was great; because of the work of our consulting teams, they were able to be coordinated and worked on together," he said.

The consultants for both projects, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and Blue Zones, presented their draft findings to Worthington City Council on Feb. 11.

Jennifer Knoll, principal planner with MORPC, said a complete-streets policy focuses on safety and convenience for all users of streets and it matters within central Ohio because of unintended consequences of growth, such as vehicle crashes.

"The demand for a growing number of mobility options is going to continue for a number of decades," she said.

Tobi Otulana, an intern with MORPC, said planners helped the city with a number of items to help make a complete-streets policy, such as performance standards.

She said a draft of the complete-streets policy specific to Worthington would be completed by the end of February.

Scott Myers, president pro tem of City Council, asked Otulana how a built-out community like Worthington could begin to implement a policy that involves changes to streets.

"I happened to look at your schematic for a residential street, and if that were built on my street, it would take out my front porch," he said.

Otulana said communities like Worthington have to focus on "retrofitting" the community.

Dan Whited, director of service and engineering for Worthington, said the complete-streets plan ultimately would go to City Council for approval as a policy when it is finished.

Meanwhile, the bike and pedestrian master plan will help guide formation of future routes and link centers of activity throughout Worthington, according to the city's website, worthington.org.

The consultant for the plan, Blue Zones, both an organization and concept created by Dan Buettner, strives to help communities become thriving places to live by using ideas taken from longevity hot spots or "blue zones."

Dan Burden, director of inspiration and innovation for Blue Zones, said the plan is "a guidepost to the future" of what Worthington hopes to be in the coming decades.

He emphasized the plan would not dictate projects that already are planned.

The plan details some hindrances to pedestrians and cyclists in Worthington, such as a number of barriers that force residents to drive. It says the city has sidewalks in most places, but gaps exist on important roads and newer areas are less connected than older areas of Worthington.

The plan proposes adding a number of bike boulevards or shoulders to connect facilities and names a number of uncontrolled intersections that are difficult to cross, such as Dublin-Granville Road at Morning Street.

The plan also details several places where signaled crossings are needed. All projects are ranked on a short- or long-term basis.

Finally, the draft plan provides suggestions for ways to obtain funding for projects.

Myers asked Burden and planner Tony Hull if the bike and pedestrian master plan was finished and what the next steps were.

Hull said the plan is about 90 percent completed, and it still needed a range of costs for some of the projects and changes based on feedback from the community and council members.

"We think we've done a good job with this, but it's all in pencil right now," Hull said.

Hurley said the plan's steering committee – a group of city leaders and one representative from both Columbus Public Health and Worthington Schools who helped provide insight – and Blue Zones want additional feedback from the community, and they held two open houses Feb. 11 and 12 that were well attended.

In addition, a project page on worthington.org has a copy of the plan and a survey that would remain open for a few weeks, Hurley said.

Hull said the plan ultimately would go to City Council for adoption.

He said making the changes and adding the cost ranges would take about two or three weeks and Blue Zones usually allows 30 days for public comment after that.

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