Villagers don't want ‘split' fix to limit access

German Village Gazette
November 20, 2003
Rosemary Kubera,
German Village Gazette Reporter

German Village is a destination point. Businesses require easy access via the interstates to and from the area. Residents demand the same

That message came through loud and clear Friday at the Meeting Haus when representatives from the Ohio Department of Transportation heard public comment about proposed upgrades to the Interstate 70-71 split.

"We got two primary things from the meeting: concern about whether the feeder system will be efficient, and will it provide the right amount of access into and out of German Village," said Michelle May, ODOT spokeswoman.

"We depend on access to the freeway system," said businesswoman and resident Catherine Adams at last week’s meeting.

"We are interested in anything that protects our lifestyle in German Village," said resident Kevin Comer.

How will villagers quickly get to places such as hospitals, asked Roy Bieber, a 20-year resident and German Village Society trustee.

"Access will be just as good to the German Village area as to Downtown," said ODOT project manager Tim McDonald.

For instance, motorists heading out of German Village will have a few options for how they enter the highway.

They can go north on South High or South Fourth streets and "get onto a new local street system and go right to the freeway and enter," said McDonald.

"Or they can cross the freeway (on High or Fourth) and turn left on Fulton and get on by (state Route) 315," he said.

Motorists will be able to go east, west, north or south on the freeway via these and other nearby links, McDonald said.

"The access would be the same as it is today. You would go up to these streets and go east or west, he said. "The actual ramp that ties in is out of German Village toward the interchange at the 315 and 71 area. So you have to travel on the corridor and get on those freeways at the periphery.

But the connections are still the same, and the way you get there is the same. Only the ramps are pushed out."

"We will show you a traffic model in a month or so," said May.

The model will be a computer simulation of traffic flow along the proposed corridor.

Along with upgrading the 70-71 split, ODOT also wants to better integrate or connect the village with Downtown, said McDonald. Toward that end, bridges will be reconstructed and made "pedestrian friendly" on Fulton, High, Third, Fourth and Grant.

Of the new High Street bridge over I-70, he said, "There is a lot of talk about replicating the bridge on High over 670."

That bridge has a new "cap" with retail spaces to encourage pedestrian traffic between Downtown and the Short North.

The community will be invited to give input when details for items including bridge design and lighting are drawn starting in the new year.

"What we have here today is a concept." said May. "It is not set in stone."

Construction of the new corridor is scheduled to begin in 2007 and take about three years. The cost is $500 million, said McDonald.

The absence of city representatives at last week’s meeting was noted by villagers. Members of the audience chuckled cynically when Katharine Moore, executive director of the German Village Society, said, "We need to be talking to the city because let’s remember how well the city takes care of our brick streets."

Resident and businesswoman Sarah Kellenberger said villagers won’t let the project harm the area.

"We have very good advocacy. You don’t have to worry your voice won’t be hear," she said.