Talks by city officials to reconfigure McCoy Road down to two lanes have been met with opposition from a resident who started an online petition drive aimed at stopping the project.

Results from a survey in Upper Arlington's 2018 Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan found that 564 (61.77%) of the 913 respondents favored an option to have bicycle lanes installed on both sides of McCoy Road.

Backed by the survey, the city continues to move toward a 2021 project that would, among other things, reduce the current number of lanes from two eastbound and two westbound for motorized traffic lanes to one lane in each direction plus a center turn lane and bike lanes on each side of the street.

McCoy Road resident Martin Cordero is opposed to the project. In October, he launched a website, keepmccoyfourlanes.com. As of Nov. 5, 61 people had signed an online petition supporting his call to maintain the road's current configuration.

"There hasn't been justification for changing a configuration that has operated well," Cordero said. "The city's desire is inspirational, with an unproved 'if you build it, they (bicyclists) will come.' But the Tremont Road 'road diet' hasn't borne that out.

"Reduction in accidents is the newest justification, but I haven't seen that the 25 accidents from last year would have been avoided by the proposed configuration," he said. "At most, the city has said that the 'types' of accidents are the kind that might be avoided."

In September, city officials told ThisWeek Upper Arlington News the possible reconfiguration of McCoy is tied to plans to replace a 55-year-old, 4,600-foot water line that runs along the street from Kenny Road to Reed Road, as well as a 64-year-old, 1,200-foot water line that runs from Reed to Mountview Road.

Jackie Thiel, city engineer and public-services director, said it's standard procedure to resurface roadways after water-line replacements.

She said the city sees the water-line projects as an opportunity to respond to concerns "repeatedly expressed to the city by residents relative to the McCoy Road corridor," including how to make McCoy a safer road for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.

Additionally, Thiel said, residents have said speeding is a problem on McCoy.

"A study conducted by the Federal Highway Administration found that four-lane to three-lane 'road diet' conversions can reduce the total number of crashes by up to 47%," she said. "Several features of a 'road diet' contribute to this safety improvement."

In July 2016, the city completed a $13.9 million reconstruction of Tremont Road.

That project was aided by about $6.8 million in grants, no-interest loans, tax-increment-financing funds and money from Franklin County permissive taxes and resulted in smoother driving surfaces and elements designed to enhance traffic flow, as well as bicycle and pedestrian travel along one of Upper Arlington's main thoroughfares.

City officials weren't able to compile Tremont Road speeding or crash statistics as of Upper Arlington News' press time, but Thiel said, "We do not receive speeding complaints on Tremont Road as we did in the past and, while we have not completed a recent crash study, we continue to hear positive comments about the changes made to incorporate multi-modal transportation on Tremont Road."

Thiel said a bike-count study on McCoy hasn't been conducted, but one will take place in 2020.

When asked if the city had statistics to back concerns about speeding and accidents on McCoy, Thiel said, "The city continues to hear reoccurring concerns from residents that speeding and crashes are an issue on McCoy Road."

"The city installed a speed radar sign on McCoy Road in 2019 which brings speed awareness to motorists," she said. "This study showed that with vehicles being shown their speed, the 85th percentile speed was 40 mph."

Cordero doesn't think any changes are warranted to McCoy, and he doesn't think the city has provided data or evidence that a reconfiguration is needed.

As someone who lives along McCoy Road and travels it frequently, Cordero said he hasn't seen large numbers of bicyclists using the roadway, nor does he think there has been a high number of accidents.

"I agree that speed is probably 40 mph on average but haven't felt it was dangerous," Cordero said. "Speed can be reduced with more patrols. I even offered the $3,500 for a permanent (35 mph speed limit) flashing light."

As proposed, the McCoy Road project, including the water-line replacements, is estimated to cost about $2.6 million.

City officials call McCoy Road one of Upper Arlington's "primary east-west connectors" that is used by approximately 7,000 vehicles each day.

That ranks ninth among the city's roads, with Riverside Drive (23,000 to 27,000 vehicles per day), Lane Avenue (16,000 to 26,000) and Henderson Road (13,000 to 25,000) being the most-traveled streets, according to the engineering division.

Thiel pointed to studies from the "Road Diet Handbook: Setting Trends for Livable Streets," which found that road diets significantly reduce travel speeds and increase property values.

"One study found that traffic speeds were reduced by 5-10 mph and increased adjacent property values by 20%," she said.

She said motorists shouldn't see "any additional delays at the intersections of Lyon, Greensview and Nottinghill Gate."

"Road diets on roads with traffic levels that are similar to McCoy Road typically do not adversely affect travel times within a corridor," she said. "Rather, clearing clogged travel lanes of left-turning vehicles actually improves the flow of traffic.

"The city has also hired a consultant to perform a traffic analysis on McCoy Road to evaluate the traffic operations -- 'level of service' -- for a four-lane roadway versus a three-lane roadway. The analysis concluded that the level of service for traffic along McCoy Road would not be affected by the reduction of lanes."

Under the current schedule, Thiel said, a proposed construction contract for the McCoy Road work would go before Upper Arlington City Council in "early 2021."

Cordero said he's waiting to see how he might use his petition until after city officials have more time to present evidence that the reconfiguration is needed.

"There is no council proposal at this time, so nothing to turn over," he said. "So for now, I'm opposed to the plan as presented.

"I don't have to prove the bike lanes are a bad idea," he said. "The city needs to prove it's a good idea. So far, they have collected very little evidence to show that the bike lanes are needed, will be used, will reduce traffic accidents, etc. Instead, they are relying on anecdotal evidence and generalities to make a major change."

nellis@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekNate