The Ohio Department of Transportation
Help is on the way for drivers in Columbus, Ohio, at the I-70/I-71 split – a highly congested area comprised of overlapping merges both entering and leaving the downtown area. Identified by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) as a High Crash Location, a multi-billion dollar, six-phase project – called the Columbus Crossroads Project – is underway to completely rebuild and improve the split. B&N is leading the design of Phase 3, referred to as the East Trench Project.
Built in the 1960s to accommodate an average of 125,000 vehicles per day, the interchange now regularly carries 175,000 vehicles per day. According to ODOT, the split is one of the most congested areas in the state, ranked fourth statewide in terms of crashes and congestion, averaging two crashes a day.
As part of the East Trench Project to improve the 70/71 corridor, B&N:
Several existing access points to and from I-71 will be eliminated. To connect the community to the new or reconstructed interstate access points outside of Phase 3, B&N designed the conversion of two streets – Parsons Avenue and Lester Drive – into one-way, urban avenues.
Citizens communicated that the bridges over I-71 connecting downtown to their neighborhoods are the most important aspect of the 70/71 redesign. B&N coordinated with ODOT during the public involvement phase to determine the preferred bridge designs and aesthetics. The resulting design incorporates architectural elements reflecting the historic surroundings, wide sidewalks to accommodate pedestrians and bicycle facilities that connect the eastern neighborhood to the downtown bike routes.
Throughout the planning process, ODOT also emphasized a Complete Streets approach to roadway design in order to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists and link downtown neighborhoods. Steps to creating a Complete Streets network were identified during the public involvement phase. Tree-lined urban avenues, a pedestrian scale buffer wall that separates the roadway from adjacent properties, pedestrian-level lighting, bicycle lanes throughout the corridor and enhanced intersections with brick sidewalks and crosswalks will be constructed to provide Complete Streets enhancements.
B&N’s design of this highly visible and complex project provided an opportunity to improve safety and reduce congestion for thousands of motorists, while also enhancing downtown neighborhoods. The B&N team is expected to complete the final design of the East Trench by early 2015. Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC) funding for construction is scheduled for 2023.