People in high-rise condos throw stones at ramp plan
New I-70/71 split might include ramp that soars beside Miranova, Waterford Tower

Saturday, March 17, 2007
Mark Ferenchik

Nancy Brown enjoys the terrace garden outside her fifth floor condominium at Miranova.

It’s a benefit she and others don’t want spoiled by traffic whizzing past on a new entrance ramp to I-70, a ramp that could be at nearly the same level as her garden atop a parking garage.

Brown is among residents of the Miranova and Waterford Tower condominiums Downtown who are concerned that one of the plans for the rebuilt I-70/71 split includes a new ramp near their buildings that would funnel traffic to the freeway from Mound Street, which would become westbound-only.

Noise and pollution are two of the biggest worries, said Brown, who is president of the Miranova Condominium Association. The proposed ramp between Mound Street and I-70 would be five stories high where it passed Miranova.

"They’re quality-of-life issues," said Glenn Kacic, president of the Waterford Tower Condominium Association.

"They know we are strongly opposed," he said of the Ohio Department of Transportation.

One fear is that a ramp would lower property values. Miranova’s units sell for $299,000 for a one-bedroom condominium up to $1.55 million for a 2,722-square-foot unit on the 24 th floor with a media room and wet bar.

Residents have been meeting with state and city officials since last year as ODOT tries to decide which of two options to choose for feeder roads to take traffic to and from the rebuilt split.

The option residents oppose would use Mound and Fulton streets to get traffic on and off the freeway, with Mound being one-way westbound and Fulton one-way eastbound.

The other option would use Fulton as the westbound street and Livingston Avenue as the eastbound one.

It’s not uncommon for ODOT to look at multiple options as it considers costs, environmental impacts and other factors, spokeswoman Lindsay Komlanc said.

Franklin County Commissioner Paula Brooks said commissioners are concerned that the Mound/Fulton option would isolate the county’s court and office complex between the two streets.

On the other hand, the Fulton/Livingston route affects the Columbus Africentric School on Livingston Avenue more, Komlanc said.

Columbus Public Schools spokesman Jeff Warner said the district has been working with ODOT, but until a plan is completed, it’s hard to tell what the effect will be on the building and grounds.

While ODOT doesn’t have final numbers, both options are within 5 percent of each other in cost, Komlanc said.

A design firm is working on making whatever option the state decides is more appealing through landscaping, walls and other ideas. "We’re trying hard to knit this into the city’s fabric," said Keith Myers, a partner in MSI, the Brewery District designers the state hired.

It’s always difficult to build a new highway in the middle of a city, ODOT spokesman Scott Varner said.

Columbus City Councilwoman Maryellen O’Shaughnessy, who leads the council’s development committee, said she appreciates that the state is working closely with neighborhoods.

"They don’t have to," she said. "They can just go ahead and do this thing."

Dispatch reporter Robert Vitale contributed to this story.