Mound-Fulton option likely for split

ODOT is expected to recommend a plan that will keep two one-way city streets north of the split, away from German Village.

By JENNIFER NOBLIT

Plans are not certain yet, but the Ohio Department of Transportation is leaning toward a plan that won't touch historic parts of German Village and the Brewery District during the Interstate 70-71 project.

After analyzing traffic flow, economic development and other factors, the department could endorse a plan that will use Fulton Avenue and Mound Street as one-way streets that feed into the split, instead of using Fulton and Livingston avenues.

"ODOT has been studying alternatives as feeder streets to the I-70-71 split," said ODOT Deputy Director Scott Varner. "We looked at which does a better job with integrity, better traffic flow, economic development, how it would effect the environment ..."

Open houses were held Monday and today to garner public comment and let the public know how the ODOT analysis went. Varner said about 75 people were present at the first meeting.

"I think a lot of folks came to listen so they could understand what our analysis said," he said.

The German Village Society had expressed concerns over the Livingston-and-Fulton option -- increased traffic and noise were among the worries.

Society Executive Director Katharine Moore said the civic association is happy ODOT is recommending the option that will place the feeder streets north of the split.

"What is worth celebrating is that the process worked and the process came out of the disaster of the early 50s and 60s that put the interstate through America," she said.

When the split was originally built, Moore said, a third of German Village was lost.

While the plan that will be recommended by ODOT will stay north of German Village, Moore said the group will still stay involved with the project.

"Now the devil is in the details," she said. "We're really concerned about unanticipated fallout of people cutting through German Village as a quick way to get around what they're putting in."

Moore said more traffic would be negative in the pedestrian-friendly community.

Varner said traffic patterns were looked at while analyzing plans.

"Throughout looking at both alternatives, we did a careful study on anticipated traffic flow," said Varner. "We tried to look at traffic patterns of how folks would use the streets. We took it into thought."

Another concern falls on how the construction will orient the gateway into German Village.

"We want to be at the table as they start to make decisions on what that'll look like," Moore said.

Not everyone prefers the Mound-Fulton option. Residents of downtown condominium complexes Miranova and Waterford Towers have some concerns about the streets being on their side of the freeway, such as negative effects on parking garages.

Nancy Brown, Miranova Residents Association President, said the organization has taken no formal stance on the route, but there are some concerns among residents.

"Most of us would rather see the other route selected," she said.

If the recommended plan is used, though, Brown said she'd like to see mitigation to make improvements to the area.

While the recommendation to use Fulton and Mound in the project will not come until later this summer, Varner said ODOT will continue to take public comment.

"Throughout the process ... since the project has shifted into gear, there have been more than 250 meetings," he said. "ODOT has sat down and heard basic concerns and has taken some of those into account."

The reconstruction of the split is not slated to begin until 2011 or 2012. Estimates have placed a $1 billion price tag on the entire project.

The split is considered the most dangerous strip of freeway in the state, with about 800 crashes per year and about 50,000 more vehicles per day than it was built to handle.