Powell's newly expanded left-turn restrictions are about keeping traffic moving through the city's center, not about writing tickets, says interim police Chief Steve Hrytzik.
That said, tickets will be written when warranted, Hrytzik said.
After nearly a year's worth of discussion, Powell City Council approved an ordinance Aug. 20 that will broaden restrictions on left turns at the Four Corners intersection of Liberty and Olentangy streets. The ordinance will ban left turns at the intersection at the city's center from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day.
The current restriction is from 4 to 7 p.m. weekdays.
The new rules will go into effect within three to five weeks, according to a news release from the city. This will allow time for signs to be ordered and installed.
"Signs will clearly direct drivers to alternate routes before they even get to the point of making a left turn (at the intersection)," Hrytzik said. "The idea is to reduce traffic through the city."
Hrytzik said his officers are prepared to enforce the new restrictions. He said the first week after signs go up, the intersection will be heavily monitored, to be followed by a week of heavy enforcement with intensified patrols focusing on warnings.
"We hope to change behavior by stopping and giving a warning," he said.
Hrytzik said that doesn't mean citations wouldn't be issued in those first two weeks but that the focus initially would be on education and changing behavior. Enforcement of the new restrictions by citation will be officers' focus beginning the third week after signs are installed, he said.
"It's a challenge with any intersection like this one," Hrytzik said. "We'll add patrols, absolutely, and we'll monitor (the intersection) via camera as well to target time frames when patrols need to be intensified."
Council member and operations committee chairman Brian Lorenz said the expanded turn restrictions are the result of significant feedback from Powell police, residents, businesses and Olentangy Local School District officials.
In addition to the existing restrictions, Lorenz said, efforts to ease traffic at the Four Corners, including changes to the traffic-signal pattern and the construction of alternate routes for motorists to avoid the intersection, have been met with, at best, mixed results.
"We had some success with the first iteration of time limits on turns," Lorenz said. "Right now, this is the best direction to try and address some of those traffic-flow concerns."
"We have taken a number of steps the past few years to improve traffic flow and the safety of pedestrians in downtown Powell with the completion of the Murphy Parkway extension, the addition of traffic signals and wayfinding signage," City Manager Steve Lutz said in a news release. "It was clear the community wanted this time frame extended after the public forum in June and through the feedback we received from our residents."
"When the community feels strongly about something, our officers will be there and do our best to support what the community wants to see," Hrytzik said.