Clintonville leaders clamor for North Broadway bridge work to join bike-trail project

STEPHEN BORGNA
sborgna@thisweeknews.com
North Broadway crosses the Olentangy River just east of state Route 315. Clintonville Area Commission members hope the city of Columbus will build a sidewalk or bike path on the south side of the bridge to help cyclists and pedestrians traveling from Clintonville to the new OhioHealth campus.

The Clintonville Area Commission is continuing to fight for upgrades to the North Broadway bridge as Columbus prepares to fill the gap in the Olentangy Trail.

After reviewing the city's plans for improvements to the trail -- including two new bridges over the Olentangy River and a path on its west side connecting Northmoor Park to Clinton-Como Park -- the CAC advocated for additional improvements to North Broadway's bridge over the river as part of the project.

In a June 22 letter addressed to Brad Westall of the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, the CAC expressed it was collectively "surprised" that dedicated pedestrian and bicycle lanes on the bridge's south side were omitted from the project plans.

The bridge currently has only a sidewalk on its north side and no sidewalk or bike path on its south side.

CAC members first advocated for the improvements to be included in the project in 2018, as OhioHealth's David P. Blom Administrative Campus was rising on North Broadway between the bridge and state Route 315. The campus opened in spring 2019, along with new roads and a new ramp off Route 315 South.

"Since 2018, as the OhioHealth campus and street improvements have been made, we continue to strongly believe that these additional improvements in pedestrian and bicycle connections are important," the CAC's letter stated. "We know that people are using the south side of the bridge to walk and bike between this campus and Clintonville and they are currently being put in an unsafe situation."

The letter was sent on behalf of all nine CAC members.

The CAC requested in the letter that the project consider "the addition of a shared-use path that could use the south side of North Broadway to connect to Milton Avenue to complete the bicycle network.

"We believe these improvements will result in a safer, interconnected and usable bicycle and pedestrian network for residents, employees and trail users," the letter reads.

It also suggests the dedicated lane be built using the abandoned merging lane of the demolished ramp from Route 315 North. The ramp was razed before the construction of the OhioHealth campus.

Cyclists riding on the Olentangy Trail, which runs from downtown to Worthington Hills, now must use city streets to navigate between Northmoor and Clinton-Como parks, including crossing North Broadway at Milton Avenue.

Milton has a dedicated lane for cyclists at the crossing.

Columbus communications and marketing manager Stephanie Leis said the project is beginning design development, with design expected to continue until late 2021 and construction expected to begin in late 2022.

Leis said the city has received the CAC's letter, and the recreation and parks department intends to meet with the commission and others to gather public input on the project.

"The North Broadway bridge has been mentioned by several community groups before," she said. "We will be looking at all the connectivity points like this to the Olentangy Trail during this initial phase."

sborgna@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekSteve