ODOT OPEN HOUSE
I-70/71 proposal intrigues, disappoints
 
Tuesday,  June 12, 2007 3:30 AM
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
William Kizer is intrigued by a plan to convert Mound and Fulton into one-way streets as part of the reconstruction of the I-70/71 corridor.

As a resident of the Market-Mohawk Apartments on Fulton Street and Grant Avenue, he will be close to the action once construction gets under way, about 2011.

"I think it will be an improvement," said Kizer, 39. "I'm just a little concerned about the traffic levels on Mound and Fulton."

Kizer, who has lived at the apartment complex about six months, was one of about 75 residents who attended an open house at the Columbus Health Department last night to examine the Ohio Department of Transportation's plans to fix the 1.5-mile stretch of freeway, which has about 800 crashes each year.

Another open house will be held 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday at the health department.

ODOT has $525 million committed to rebuild I-70 through Downtown and I-71 north to I-670. The number of freeway lanes will be increased and the number of ramps reduced to make driving safer and less congested.

The scheme relies upon two pairs of one-way streets to usher vehicles into and out of Downtown.

On the eastern edge along I-71, Lester Drive will expand to carry southbound traffic; a feeder street will be built to connect Parsons Avenue with the freeway northbound.

ODOT is prepared to recommend using Mound and Fulton as one-way streets paralleling I-70 on the north. ODOT prefers the Mound-Fulton alternative to using Fulton and Livingston Avenue on the south side of the I-70/71 corridor, which was another option under consideration.

ODOT is collecting public comment "to make sure our reasoning is sound and that we haven't missed anything," said Thomas Slack, ODOT managing engineer.

Residents of Miranova and Waterford Towers on the west side of Downtown prefer the Livingston-Fulton alternative.

"If we end up, as we appear we will, with the Mound-Fulton proposal, there is a great deal of work to be done to address our concerns about access, the environmental impact and pollution," said Nancy Brown, Miranova condo association president.

The Mound-Fulton alternative would elevate Mound Street, obscuring views for some residents. Some hope ODOT can provide some landscaping or streetscaping to soften the impact.

"We might even be able to gain something," said Waterford resident Mike Montis. "Let's see what those options are."

ODOT plans to submit a recommendation for fixing the corridor to the Federal Highway Administration in July.

Slack said ODOT hasn't seen much that stands up for an argument in favor of the Livingston-Fulton alternative.

tdoulin@dispatch.com