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Columbus: I-70/I-71 Split Project

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Ugh. If they are going to do major construction, please get it done in one piece, rather than spread it over the period of a decade. The split is one of the greatest contributors of accidents in the Columbus metro.

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More at link. It appears that the South Innerbelt (70/71/315, 4th) is a Tier II project, meaning that it may or may not happen, while the East Innerbelt (71/670, Broad) is a definite.

 

 

State keeps I-70/71 plan on track

Review panel commits $512 million to rebuild stretch with most safety issues

Friday,  August 28, 2009 12:07 AM

By Bill Bush, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

 

A state transportation planning committee approved an additional $17.5million to keep a major portion of the $1.6 billion redesign of Downtown highways on track to reconstruction in two to three years. The state Transportation Review Advisory Council voted 6-0 yesterday to raise the amount it has committed to the I-70/71 project to date to $512.7 million. That will cover the design and construction of a stretch of I-71 from just north of the I-670 interchange south to I-70. The remainder of the project - continuing west to the Downtown Rt. 315 interchange - is considered a "tier II" funding request, meaning it is not guaranteed funding and may or may not be constructed.

 

Read more at http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/08/27/i70-71merge.html

 

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Here's a later edition of the same I-70/71 Dispatch article with some additional information and a map of the project area...

 

State keeps I-70/71 plan on track

Review panel commits $512 million to rebuild stretch with most safety issues

Friday,  August 28, 2009 - 3:10 AM

By Bill Bush, The Columbus Dispatch

 

The Ohio Department of Transportation says the first stretch to be reconstructed will solve more than 50 percent of the safety, congestion and neighborhood-access issues presented by the current highway design, said ODOT spokeswoman Nancy Burton.  But that stretch will cost less than a third of the total price tag.  "It's capacity, it's crashes, it's connectivity, all sorts of things" that go into the problems-solved equation, Burton said.

 

To deal with neighborhood connectivity, "caps" similar to the one where High Street crosses I-670 in the Short North could be installed at Spring, Long and Broad streets.  More than a bridge to carry vehicles, caps can include buildings, wider sidewalks, grassy areas and trees.  ODOT has pledged $10 million of the $512.7 million for caps, and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission has pledged an additional $12 million. (The caps may or may not include buildings, as the High Street/I-670 cap does, Burton said.)  A mix of city, state and federal money, as well as a private investment boosted by a 10-year property tax abatement, helped finance the High Street cap.

 

Pc0191000.jpg

 

Read more at http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/08/28/i70-71_merge.ART_ART_08-28-09_B5_3FET83U.html?sid=101

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Of course, the split was fine for decades until, out of nowhere, too many cars seem to use it nowadays causing accidents. Surely, Columbus' sprawl-loving annexation policy has nothing to do with it and improved mass transit surely wouldn't reduce the number of drivers using it. There goes even more of Olde Towne East's remaining commercial street, which was only left with a handful of buildings, won't even have that anymore.

 

An ODOT rep told me why they're tearing down more ***occupied*** commercial buildings there. Wanna know why? Because if not there would be..."traffic".

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Of course, the split was fine for decades until, out of nowhere, too many cars seem to use it nowadays causing accidents. Surely, Columbus' sprawl-loving annexation policy has nothing to do with it...

 

The annexation had little to do with the total amount of regional growth... it was just a changing of boundary lines to keep that growth technically within Columbus. The highways would still be used just as much today whether or not the regional growth was inside the city limits or not.

 

Of course, I do agree that rail transit would ease highway traffic congestion though.

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From http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/odot-meeting-i-7071-south-innerbelt-study-119-430pm

 

Stakeholder Meeting Announcement I-70/71 South Innerbelt Study

 

Topic: Project Design Enhancements

Time: November 9, 2009 at 4:30 p.m.

Place: Lincoln Theater, 769 E. Long St., 2nd floor

 

As a continuation of the design enhancement process begun in 2006, the ODOT project team would like to meet with you to share project enhancement concepts for the city streets and main line freeway related to the I-70/71 Innerbelt Project.  Please plan on attending this stakeholder meeting which begins at 4:30 p.m. on Monday, November 9, 2009 at the newly renovated Lincoln Theater at 769 E. Long Street, in the second floor meeting space.  Public parking is available on the side of the building and directly across the street.  Also monitor the project website for further updates and information at: www.7071study.org.

 

Purpose of Meeting: The ODOT team will present a project update and an overview of the draft design enhancement concepts for the freeway and city streets of the I-70/71 Innerbelt Project. 

 

Overview: The Ohio Department of Transportation has committed to providing design enhancements as part of the planned I-70/71 Innerbelt reconstruction.

 

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Residents look for trees in I-70/71 project plans

Tuesday,  November 10, 2009 - 3:03 AM

By Bill Bush, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

 

Last night, the Ohio Department of Transportation unveiled its plans to enhance the $1.6 billion highway project planned for the I-70/71 corridor Downtown.  New one-way connector streets along existing Mound and Fulton streets, Parsons Avenue and Lester Drive will replace most exit and entrance ramps that get motorists in and out of Downtown.ODOT officials had promised to keep the roads from resembling typical freeway ramps.  Instead, they are to be "urban avenues," with decorative fencing, lighting and landscaping.

 

But the 50 or so people who gathered at the Lincoln Theatre to review the plan had a common question: Where are the trees?  "I'm not seeing an improvement as far as the landscape," one woman told ODOT officials.  "If they are freeway ramps, then let's just call them what they are," said another woman.  "It is not an urban avenue."

 

PROJECT MAP

 

Full story at http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2009/11/10/odot_downtown_streetplan.ART_ART_11-10-09_B1_7HFKISN.html?sid=101

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ODOT is scared about drivers hitting trees, not people, on the sidewalks of their 25MPH feeder streets, so they don't want to have trees lining these streets.

 

“Officials designing the project told the crowd that many trees were eliminated for safety reasons, with a concern that cars might hit them.”

(from the above article "Residents look for trees in I-70/71 project plans")

 

Not only that, but this ongoing construction is going to devastate nearby business districts in KL and OTE (the latter which does have enough roomstreet to avoid tearing down buildings) and if I remember correctly it's also going to widen the gap between the east and west sides of Franklinton along Sullivant. I did a whole blog entry (rant) on this and I should have put some more of the blame on city leaders. It's not like they've done anything to encourage less cars on the road or end sprawling development leading to the current situation of the split. They'll just throw tens of millions of dollars to add more lanes and encourage more sprawl and more cars on the road. Also keep in mind that when the split was originally built that capacity was exceed in just over a decade in 1986 and since then the number of users has been increasing steadily, until 2000-2003 where it jumped way up an average of 20,000 vehicles.

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Olde Towne East makes some noise

By Steph Greegor

The Other Paper

Published: Wednesday, December 16, 2009 9:47 PM EST

 

Mike Moore took it to heart when the Ohio Department of Transportation told Olde Towne East stakeholders earlier this month that the only way to make sure they get what they were promised was to make a lot of noise.

 

“We were told that ‘He who makes the loudest noise will get their way,’” said Moore, president of the Olde Towne East Neighborhood Association, of what ODOT reps said to Downtown residents and business owners at a public meeting earlier this month.

 

According to Moore, they were informed that the initial beautification and economic development aesthetics Olde Towne East was expected to receive as part of the I-70/71 split project, which included additional green space and an interstate cap like the one over I-670 currently benefiting the Short North, was being significantly scaled back.

 

Full story at: http://www.theotherpaper.com/articles/2009/12/21/front/doc4b299aa608553390728539.txt

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From Columbus Underground:

 

Public Hearing on Proposed Phase 1 I-70/71 Split Improvement Plan

 

WHO:

Councilmember Hearcel F. Craig, Public Service & Transportation Committee

Councilmember Andrew J. Ginther, Finance and Economic Development Committee

Councilmember Priscilla R. Tyson, Development Committee

Representatives of the Ohio Department of Transportation

 

WHEN:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

5:30 PM

 

WHERE:

City Council Chambers

City Hall

90 West Broad Street

 

WHAT:

The Columbus City Council will hold a public hearing regarding the Ohio Department of Transportation’s proposed phase 1 of the I-70/71 split improvement project.

 

 

MORE: http://www.columbusunderground.com/forums/topic/public-hearing-on-proposed-phase-1-i-7071-split-improvement-plan-714-715

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Neighbors complain over ODOT's plans for I-70/71 split

Downtown-area residents say agency, city ignoring concerns

Thursday, July 15, 2010  02:54 AM

By Robert Vitale

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

 

 

By its own count, the Ohio Department of Transportation has hosted more than 400 public meetings on its ever-changing plans to rebuild I-70/71 through Downtown.

 

But less than two weeks before a City Council vote to move the project forward, critics still abound.

 

Residents of Olde Towne East, the King-Lincoln District, German Village and other near-Downtown neighborhoods told council members last night that they should put the brakes on construction. They first want ODOT to address concerns that fixing freeway hazards will make city streets more dangerous for drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists.

 

Full story at: http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/07/15/copy/slow-down-on-i-7071-odot-told.html?adsec=politics&sid=101

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This was discussed yesterday on All Sides with Ann Fisher.

 

http://www.wosu.org/allsides/?archive=1&date=07/15/2010

 

I spoke at the meeting on 7/14/10, but couldn't get to all of what I wanted to say and I'm not a great public speaker, which you'd know if you saw me on Channel 3. Here it is if anyone wants to read it.

 

ODOT's so-called split “fix” is what ODOT has always proposed as a solution: more lanes. They want to push this forward when they still haven't even provided some basic information to the public. What is the new projected  capacity of the split? How long will it be before it goes over capacity again? One year? Five decades? What exactly are we  to expect in return for spending $1.7 billion or more? And as we all know adding lanes worked out great in LA where anyone can tell you they don't have any traffic problems whatsoever.

 

ODOT cites the number of overcapacity vehicles as the #1 reason for the high accident rate on the split. How about we look at reducing the number of those vehicles without wasting $1.7 billion right off the bat? According to ODOT's chart of average daily traffic the most recent figure shows about 160,000 daily vehicles in the year 2000. The original split capacity is for 120,000 vehicles .It's 40,000 vehicles over capacity with 20,000 being trucks. Rerouting trucks elsewhere, particularly during rush hour, would alone cut out half of the overcapacity vehicles. In fact, looking at the figure given today the total daily number of vehicles is now down to 146,000 a day as of 2010* from the previous 160,000 a day: that's 14,000 overcapacity vehicles less each day or 35% less and we haven't even touched the split yet.

 

ODOT's own crash data shows that an average of 32% of all crashes occur from 3PM to 6 PM, which is a reminder that this $1.7 billion is just being spent on a few hours a day when the split sees a large spike in users and crashes as a result, while the other 21 hours pale in comparison. With that in mind, let's  implement other measures such as a lower-than-normal rush hour speed limit enforced with large fines posted for motorists and promoting carpooling as solutions before jumping straight to adding several lanes for $1.7 billion or more.

 

This split fix is going to do nothing to reconnect neighborhoods to Downtown which the city and local residents have worked hard to bring back from the brink. Caps or no caps the physical division will be much greater. Just imagine placing a Long and Spring St equivalent on either side of the Cap over 670 and you can imagine how it would be severed from both Downtown and the Short North.

 

The OTENA has publicized the fact that Parsons is going to lose 20% of the remaining commercial buildings in their main business district**. Direct highway access to and from these neighborhoods is also about to be lost. OTE and GV residents among others have stated they don't want to lose this access for their residents, businesses and visitors. On top of that, the 1st phase of the project will take at the very least 2 years to complete and businesses nearby are going to suffer as a result.

 

As if that wasn't enough, ODOT's renderings show they are considering squeezing cyclists alongside parked cars where doing so elsewhere has resulted in the predicable deaths of many people simply because there are always drivers that will open their car door without looking. ODOT has already established that they don't know what constitutes an “urban avenue”, let alone what is “bike-friendly”.

 

If this project goes forward we can expect to see recent revitalization efforts of neighborhoods in proximity to the split either severely setback or destroyed altogether.

 

*Quoted from page 2 of  4 of the City of Columbus Legislation Report file number 1038-2010. ODOT represetatives quoted a vastly different current number of 175,000 daily vehicles on the split.

 

**Quoted from the last page of the booklet for the Olde Towne East & Franklin Park 2010 Historic Homes Tour.

 

 

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Coveted highway caps still in Downtown plan

But budget will limit final number 

Monday, July 19, 2010  - 2:51 AM

By Robert Vitale, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

 

Bridges over a rebuilt I-70/71 will be better than the standard concrete and chain-link of today.  But only one of the six spans to be replaced during the project's first half will include a Short North-style cap that near-Downtown neighborhoods have coveted throughout the planning process.

 

Ohio Department of Transportation officials say earlier drawings and descriptions were conceptual and now are outdated, even though they're still posted on the agency's website.  The "visioning exercises" included cost estimates but weren't subjected to the budget realities applied as the state moves toward a 2011 construction kickoff.  "We're down to the nuts-and-bolts decisions now," spokesman Brian Hedge said.

 

MAP:  I-70/71 Split Project - Bridge Locations

 

Full article: http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/07/19/copy/coveted-caps-still-indowntownplan.html?adsec=politics&sid=101

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Groundbreaking News: ODOT May Have Lied to City Council to Make Case for Split Reconstruction

 

When I attended the televised the I-70 71 meeting at City Hall on 7/14/10 ODOT representatives kept using the figure of 175,000 motor vehicles a day using the split, which was originally intended for 120,000 vehicles as maximum capacity. However, ODOT officials were quoted in the Dispatch on 1/24/2009 stating that the split has over 50,000 overcapacity vehicles each day (over 170,000 vehicles total) while ODOT Deputy Director Scott Varner was quoted in a 7/1/2010 interview with Outlook saying that the split carries 175,00o vehicles a day. According to ODOT the east leg of the split, phases 1, 2, and 3, sees 126,700 motor vehicles per day. (Click for larger image.)

 

adt.jpg?w=459&h=334

 

Image from ODOT

 

FYI, ADT=Average Daily Traffic. Again, the split has a capacity of 120,000 vehicles. That means the entire eastern leg of the split from 670 down to the highway entanglement at Main is in no need whatsoever of additional capacity in the form of one-way feeder lanes let alone reconstruction; you can see they used blue font for non-problematic amounts of ADT such as that one, but they did use red font for the two larger numbers on the southern leg of the split. In reality, we're spending $1.7 billion on 1.7 miles, which is only around half of the split. The amount of money we're going to spend on each 1/10 of a mile is astounding: over $588 million per 1/10th of a mile. And wouldn't you know, it doesn't end there by any means.

 

I was confused by the figure quoted in the agenda of 146,000 vehicles a day using the split while ODOT officials kept repeating "175,000". Now I know why there was such a drastic difference. Look at the date of the figure quoted: 2002. Let's take a look at MORPC's Traffic Count Data System for more up-to-date ADT figures. Looking at the same location on the southwest portion of the split just east of Whittier St the number of daily vehicles using this portion of the split is not 174,900, but 133,920 as of 2006. That's near the current capacity of 120,000 vehicles a day and a drop of over 40,000 vehicles a day and we didn't have to do a thing! According to a USA Today article from 3/11/1o we're down to near 1950s levels when it comes to highway deaths and the split has certainly likewise seen correlating, dramatic drops in the number of daily users and crashes. (Click for larger image)

 

swsplit.jpg?w=510&h=206

 

Image from MORPC & Google Maps

 

Now let's take a look at the southeastern location near Grant that shows 167,500 a day as of 2002, but is down to 128,370. What do you know, those numbers are likewise the lowest recorded since 1986 according to ODOT's chart.

 

TotalvsTrucks.gif

 

Image from ODOT

 

And just where does MORPC get their ADT data on the split for 2006 anyway? ODOT.

 

sesplit.jpg?w=510&h=207

 

"The counts on this segment were extracted from the Ohio ODOT's Traffic Survey Reports"Image from MORPC' & Google Maps

 

It's no wonder that ODOT's maps and charts page only utilizes data around the year 2000, because without it there is demonstrably no reason whatsoever to even touch the split since traffic volumes are near or below the maximum capacity that the split was built to handle. At best, ODOT unknowingly mislead City Council and Columbus residents by presenting vastly outdated information and at worst, lied right in our face.

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The Dispatch's Joe Blundo takes a humorous, but still thoughtful look at the 70-71 Split....and what highway projects have done (for better or worse) to our communities...

 

 

SO TO SPEAK

No need to dash to finalize this gash

Sunday, July 25, 2010  03:01 AM

 

 

Freeways are ugly. Cities want to be beautiful. Hence, the dissatisfaction with plans for rebuilding the I-70/71 split Downtown.

 

We're attempting to reconcile the irreconcilable.

 

The specific objections to the design - it doesn't do enough to ensure pedestrian safety, accommodate bicyclists or re-knit neighborhoods - are legitimate concerns. But even a safe, friendly, neighborly gash would still be a gash.

 

We know this in our pop-culture bones.

 

Full column at: http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/life/stories/2010/07/25/no-need-to-dash-to-finalize-this-gash.html?sid=101

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City Council takes lead on I-70/71

ODOT to work with members, present plan for final review

Tuesday, July 27, 2010  02:52 AM

By Robert Vitale

The Columbus Dispatch

 

Mayor Michael B. Coleman reminded Columbus City Council members 10 days ago that state planners have come a long way in listening to the city's concerns about reconstruction of I-70/71.

 

But it's not the Ohio Department of Transportation that has frustrated council members most. It's Coleman's own administration, which they say has cut them out of discussions

 

Full story at: http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/07/27/copy/council-takes-lead-on-i-7071.html?adsec=politics&sid=101

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Before they approved it, I had presented the 2006 data showing much lower average daily traffic, which when combined with the further drop of highway users nationwide, clearly shows that we're going to waste $1.7 billion on a problem that already fixed itself for free. ODOT officials acknowledged the fact that the number highway users has been reduced and as a result highway funding has also gone down. They even admitted that the reason the 175,000 average daily traffic that was counted at the same spot on the southwest leg near Whittier St went down to 133,000 in 2006 and rose again in more recent data (didn't say which year after 2006) was because the average daily traffic there was being counted while I-670 was closed and all traffic there was being rerouted onto the I-70/71 split, which is funny because that number was also likewise exaggerated by 18 months of construction on I-670 starting in March 2002. Yet even after knowing that the overcapacity number is vastly exaggerated and still outdated, city council still passed legislation and city council president Mentel must be just as apathetic as the average Columbus citizen when he shouldn't be, as he didn't bother to show up. It's just one of, if not the largest, most expensive transportation project in recent history: and we don't even need it. But who cares?

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Driving the split each day, I can easily say it needs rebuilt.  Two cross-state freeways merge to form only 3 lanes.  That's terribly substandard.  It needs brought up to current standards.  The traffic going through also isn't just local traffic.  I-70 is a transcontinental interstate and needs to be upgraded across the board. 

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The split is operating at or below capacity, i.e. just what it was designed for. They can always lower the speed limit to 35-40MPH and enforce it to minimize merging conflicts (it's only for 1 mile if you're only using the southern or eastern leg and just 2 if you're using both). ODOT officials are cherry picking data precisely from when 670 was closed and rerouted onto the split. Keep in mind that according to ODOT's 2006 data that's 75,000-118,000 vehicles a day on 670 depending on which downtown stretch we are talking about. It's the drivers that needs rebuilt, not the split as ODOT's own data makes painfully clear. When you have to go out of your way to make the numbers say what you want them to say, you know you're fabricating the necessity of the project.

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New leadership unlikely to halt I-70/71 project

Saturday, November 13, 2010

By Robert Vitale, The Columbus Dispatch

 

Although their Democratic allies at the Ohio Department of Transportation are on their way out, Columbus officials say they are hopeful that the successors will stick with plans for rebuilding the I-70/71 split.

 

And that optimism extends to the millions of dollars pledged by Gov. Ted Strickland's administration for landscaped plazas, artwork and decorative lights and fences along 12 Downtown overpasses.  "I'd be very surprised if ODOT didn't move forward as planned," said Mark Kelsey, director of the city's Department of Public Service and a former state transportation deputy director.  "I have no reason to worry," said Mayor Michael B. Coleman.

 

ODOT is scheduled to announce a narrowed list of potential designers and builders on Dec. 1 for the first phase of the $1.6 billion I-70/71 project.  It's scheduled to begin next year with reconstruction of the interchange at I-71 and I-670 on the northeastern edge of Downtown.  The $260 million first-phase plan also includes rebuilding King-Lincoln District bridges at Spring and Long streets with walls strong enough to support caps similar to those in the Short North.

 

MAP:  I-70/71 Split Project - Bridge Locations

 

MORE: http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/11/13/copy/new-leadership-unlikely-to-halt-i-7071-project.html?adsec=politics&sid=101

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Street level highways flanking an existing highway: of course the republicans will like it at least as much as the democrats. Likewise, I doubt the new leadership cares that highway volumes on the split have dropped down the closest to original capacity volumes they've ever been in the past couple of decades. That means we've seen two or so decades worth of rising traffic volumes eliminated without spending a penny on new construction.

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It does seem like 70-71 is not nearly the perpetual clustercuss it was 5 to 15 years ago, when I'd get stuck any time I came through town. As long as 315 and 670 are actually open, it isn't too bad. At this point, the worst spot seems to be 71 between the split and Crew Stadium.

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From Columbus Underground:

 

COLUMBUS CITY COUNCIL MEETING HIGHLIGHTS - January 24, 2011

 

SUPPORTING PHASE 1 OF THE I-70/71 CORRIDOR RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT: The city of Columbus is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation to create a safer I-70/71 corridor.  The current downtown highway system opened in the 1970’s and traffic volume has exceeded the design capacity by more than 50,000 vehicles a day resulting in crashes, congestion and delays. 

 

Public Service Committee Chair Hearcel F. Craig is sponsoring ordinance 1838-2010, which authorizes the expenditure of approximately $2.5 million from the Build America Bonds Fund for Phase 1 of the project. 

 

Phase 1 will include roadway improvements to the I-670/71 Interchange and involve the realignment of Interstate Route 670 eastbound so through traffic stays to the left, traffic to Interstate 71 exits to the right, and work on Interstate 71 from over Jack Gibbs to Long Street.  The project will also include 20 mainline, ramp and overhead bridges as well as enhanced crossings on Spring Street and Long Street, lying within the city of Columbus.  This is the first phase of the reconstruction project costing $1.6 billion and expected to be completed in 2017.

 

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Part of a larger Dispatch article on Monday's Columbus City Council meeting:

 

Coleman trims city budget

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

By Doug Caruso

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH

 

Last night, the council also approved working with the Ohio Department of Transportation on the first phase of a project to rebuild I-71 and I-70 through Downtown.  The first phase of the project, estimated to cost $180 million, includes the reconstruction of the interchange of I-670 and I-71 northeast of Downtown.

 

Construction is to begin this spring and wrap up in 2013.  Other phases moving westward could take up to 10 years to complete.  "This is a very exciting step in the decade-long process to untangle the I-70/71 split in Downtown Columbus," said Councilman Hearcel F. Craig.

 

The legislation included approval to spend up to $2.46 million toward brick crosswalks, underground utilities, bike lanes and other extras the city wants in the project.

 

MORE: http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2011/01/25/copy/coleman-trims-city-budget.html?adsec=politics&sid=101

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Columbus Underground had two reports on the imminent start of the I-70/71 Split project. 

 

The first report gives a brief overview of Phase One of the Interstate 70/71 split fix project.  This link includes renderings of what the Spring Street and Long Street bridges that connect Downtown Columbus to the King Lincoln District will look like after Phase One is finished.

 

Phase One of Interstate 70/71 Split Fix Begins in September

 

 

The second report is an ODOT public meeting to provide final updates on Phase One of the Interstate 70/71 split fix project.  This link includes a PDF of ODOT's full presentation from the meeting.  As well as graphics and tables of the planned ramp closures of the project.

 

Interstate 70/71 Split Fix Construction Timelines and Road Closures

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The Dispatch had an article today about an adjacent but not really related project for the Third Street bridge next to I-670.  The Third Street bridge will be closing for 70 days for repairs starting on Monday, August 22, 2011.  More about this and the coming I-70/71 Split project at the article below:

 

 

3rd Street bridge closing will be prelude to wider Downtown pain

Deck work starts a month before I-71/I-670 rebuild

By Dylan Tussel, The Columbus Dispatch

Thursday August 18, 2011 - 6:34 AM

 

The $825,139 replacement of the deck on the (Third Street) bridge is coming a month before a multiyear I-71/I-670 interchange project is scheduled to start.

 

That $200 million Ohio Department of Transportation project, to begin in mid-September, will close 15 ramps in and around Downtown for a year or more.  Lanes will be reduced.  Speed limits will drop to 45 mph.

 

The interchange will be complete in 2014, when work will begin on the I-70/I-71 interchange near Nationwide Children’s Hospital, followed by work on I-71 through Downtown, then the interchange of I-70/71 and Rt. 315, and then I-70.

 

The 3rd Street bridge repairs that will begin Monday will continue until Nov. 1 and close two of three major routes to Downtown: the exit ramp from eastbound I-670 and the entrance from Summit Street to the bridge.

 

MORE: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/08/18/bridge-closing-will-be-prelude-to-wider-pain.html

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It seems that the way that they have laid out the phases allows them to stop after each one if money or support dries up. I know some phases are design/build, so I guess that's a side benefit of that approach.

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They're going ahead with the project despite the documentation from ODOT's 2006 data on various stretches of the split which are mostly under capacity and acknowledged by ODOT officials themselves and city council members, we can still see that city cites the blatantly fallacious figure of being overcapacity by 50,000 vehicles a day when I proved that was not the case from publicly available ODOT traffic data online with just a few clicks.

 

http://morpc.ms2soft.com/

 

From Columbus Underground:

 

COLUMBUS CITY COUNCIL MEETING HIGHLIGHTS - January 24, 2011

 

SUPPORTING PHASE 1 OF THE I-70/71 CORRIDOR RECONSTRUCTION PROJECT: The city of Columbus is working with the Ohio Department of Transportation to create a safer I-70/71 corridor.  The current downtown highway system opened in the 1970’s and traffic volume has exceeded the design capacity by more than 50,000 vehicles a day resulting in crashes, congestion and delays. 

 

Public Service Committee Chair Hearcel F. Craig is sponsoring ordinance 1838-2010, which authorizes the expenditure of approximately $2.5 million from the Build America Bonds Fund for Phase 1 of the project. 

 

Phase 1 will include roadway improvements to the I-670/71 Interchange and involve the realignment of Interstate Route 670 eastbound so through traffic stays to the left, traffic to Interstate 71 exits to the right, and work on Interstate 71 from over Jack Gibbs to Long Street.  The project will also include 20 mainline, ramp and overhead bridges as well as enhanced crossings on Spring Street and Long Street, lying within the city of Columbus.  This is the first phase of the reconstruction project costing $1.6 billion and expected to be completed in 2017.

 

 

Note that the city is going to cough up $2.5 million dollars: just think of what that could have done to further economic development in Franklinton for street design improvements right on W Broad close to Downtown and/or reconnect businesses on Long St in Downtown with those on Long St in King-Lincoln with a two-way conversion versus maintaining a one-way barrier and now adding wide one-way divider streets/moats. Even E Main in Olde Towne East would probably have benefited from pedestrianization since commercial revitalization efforts basically have to move forward here since Parsons is filled and Oak has very little left as far as commercial buildings go.

 

The Dispatch had an article today about an adjacent but not really related project for the Third Street bridge next to I-670.  The Third Street bridge will be closing for 70 days for repairs starting on Monday, August 22, 2011.  More about this and the coming I-70/71 Split project at the article below:

 

3rd Street bridge closing will be prelude to wider Downtown pain

Deck work starts a month before I-71/I-670 rebuild

By Dylan Tussel, The Columbus Dispatch

Thursday August 18, 2011 - 6:34 AM

 

The $825,139 replacement of the deck on the (Third Street) bridge is coming a month before a multiyear I-71/I-670 interchange project is scheduled to start.

 

That $200 million Ohio Department of Transportation project, to begin in mid-September, will close 15 ramps in and around Downtown for a year or more.  Lanes will be reduced.  Speed limits will drop to 45 mph.

 

The funny thing is that ODOT is going to reduce the speed limit during construction as suggested by myself and others, but instead of implemeting that as the first solution and measuring how that works out for 6 months-1 year they think it's best to not bother saving $1.59 billion for other projects in the 3 Cs and beyond. Now instead of spending thousands on purchasing and installing new 45 MPH speed limit signs we'll only know if that would have sufficed vs. this $1.6 billion project by comparing traffic data and crash data on similar downtown highways that already have a 45 MPH speed limit in place. Oh well, I was about only one out of a handful of people that cared about this enough to show up at the meetings anyway.

 

(dmerkow: I might be able to help you on your commute if you want)

 

And here's a Dispatch article with reader submitted nicknames for the project.

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We'll see if I need it. I think I've figured out enough alternates (I like Nelson to Oak (which is where my parking is). I may go for an earlier shift and take an express bus if it gets Cincinnati-Brent Spence crazy.

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Multiyear highway headache Downtown is set to go

Road-project name now up to voters

By  Robert Vitale

The Columbus Dispatch Thursday September 15, 2011 7:16 AM

 

The first effects of the three-year, $200 million project to rebuild the I-71/I-670 interchange Downtown will be felt more than a mile away.

 

Ohio Department of Transportation officials say they’ll shut down one lane of the ramp that carries traffic from eastbound I-70 to northbound I-71 at 8 p.m. Sunday so construction crews can begin work on the highways’ drainage system far below ground.

 

“It’s the first bit of construction that we’re starting,” said Nancy Burton, spokeswoman for the department’s central Ohio district.

Read more at: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/09/15/multiyear-highway-headache-is-set-to-go.html

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Downtown ramp closings, detours lead to dramatic increase in wrecks

By  Robert Vitale

The Columbus Dispatch Monday November 7, 2011 6:41 AM

 

Crashes in the I-71/670 construction zone have increased nearly five-fold since the first ramps closed in late September.

And the southbound stretch of I-71 from the state fairgrounds to I-670 has become particularly treacherous, a Dispatch review of Columbus police crash reports found.

 

The area, clogged most mornings with commuters from Clintonville and the North Side, Westerville, Worthington and other suburbs, has been the scene of 49 crashes involving 108 motorists who have bumped and collided, most often in stop-and-go traffic. That’s more than 1.5 crashes per day. In the month before barricades and orange barrels were put in place, the same stretch of southbound I-71 averaged one crash every three days.

 

Read more at:  http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2011/11/07/danger-zone.html

 

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Countdown to Columbus Crossroads Crossover

 

Video Animation puts you behind the wheel

 

(Columbus OH) –Video animation created by the Ohio Department of Transportation puts you behind the wheel in an effort to help you travel safely through the 71/670 Columbus Crossroads Project.

 

The animation illustrates how to travel through the crossover that will be implemented by the Monday morning commute for 670 east motorists.

 

Two lanes of 670 east will literally cross over just after the High Street Cap and travel on the westbound side. There will also be two lanes of 670 west maintained. Both directions of 670 will travel on the same side of the roadway separated by concrete barrier for a little less than a mile.

 

Your guide to the animation

The animation begind just before the Hight Street Cap to orient you.

 

After several seconds you are behind the wheel.

 

Immediately after you exit the Cap, the two lanes of east bound traffic crosses over to the west bound side.

 

670 east can exit at 3rd Street, but not at 4th because Neil Avenue to 670 east is re-reouted using 4th Street.

 

As you head east, you see the Cleveland Avenue exit which will remain OPEN.

 

Just after the Cleveland Avenue exit, 670 east crosses back over and returns to its regular traffic pattern.

 

670 east can still access 71 north.

 

The crossover for 670 east will be in place for approximately one year.

 

 

The speed limit through the construction zone is reduced to 45 miles per hour.

 

The animation can be found on the project website at odot71670.org. or by clicking on this link:

 

http://www.ohiochannel.org/MediaLibrary/MediaEmbed.aspx?fileId=133307

 

 

Find us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ODOT71670

 

Follow us on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/ODOT71670 ###

 

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There was some good 70/71 news about saving time and money:

 

Saving time and money on Long Street

By: Robert Vitale, The Columbus Dispatch

January 16, 2012 - 17:01 PM

 

With a stroke of the pen, ODOT has saved six months and $1 million in the I-71/670 construction zone.  When crews start work in April on a new Long Street bridge over I-71, they'll switch positions for a 60-foot-wide plaza and a cultural wall that will feature historical images from the Near East Side.

 

That simple move -- the cap will now go on the north side of the bridge, and the wall will go on the south side -- means crews won't need to relocate water and sanitary sewer lines under Long Street, ODOT's Nancy Burton said.  And that means plans to close Long Street for six months are off the table.

 

Long Street will close for a week, tops, Burton said.  It might not need to close at all.

 

MORE: http://www.dispatch.com/content/blogs/crawlumbus/2012/01/long-street.html

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And then there was some 70/71 news about time and money:

 

ODOT pushes back future phases of I-70/71 reconstruction project

By Robert Vitale, The Columbus Dispatch

Tuesday, January 17, 2012 - 2:23 PM

 

Future phases of Downtown highway reconstruction will be pushed back — way back — according to an updated, priorities list that the Ohio Department of Transportation is describing as realistic.  Today, ODOT convened a nine-member panel that has helped set the state's road-building priorities since 1997.

 

The second phase of the work — redoing the I-70/71 interchange near Nationwide Children’s Hospital — is being pushed back from 2014 to 2025.  Phase three, I-71 reconstruction, is being pushed back from 2015 to 2028.

 

MORE: http://www.dispatch.com/content/stories/local/2012/01/17/ODOT-pushes-back-phases-of-Downtown-reconstruction.html

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