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 entering and leaving downtown. Identified by the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) as a High Crash Location, a multi-billion dollar, multi-phase project – called the Columbus Crossroads Project – is underway to completely rebuild and improve the split.
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 for crashes and congestion, averaging two crashes a day.
B&N is leading the design of Phase 3 and Phase 3B of the Columbus Crossroads project – the East Trench Projects. As part of the East Trench Projects to improve the 70/71 corridor, B&N will:
- Redesign Interstate 71 from Main Street to just north of Broad Street and add urban avenues connecting Main and Long Streets
- Add new lanes and retaining walls on I-71, increasing the total number of lanes from six to 12
- Design three new bridges over I-71 – Town Street, Oak Street, and Broad Street – and the roadway approach work on both sides of each bridge
Neighborhood Input Helps Drive Community Connections
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 the area, B&N designed the conversion of two streets into one-way, urban avenues.
Citizens said that the bridges over I-71 that connect their neighborhoods to downtown are the most important part of the 70/71 redesign. B&N worked with ODOT during the public involvement phase to determine the preferred bridge designs and aesthetics. The preliminary bridge designs include architectural elements that reflect the historic surroundings, wide sidewalks to accommodate pedestrians, and bicycle facilities that connect to downtown bike routes.
Throughout the planning process, ODOT also emphasized a Complete Streets approach to provide access for 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, curb bump outs and crosswalks will be built 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 designs for both phases of the East Trench Project in 2018. Construction of Phase 3B is scheduled for 2019 and Phase 3 is scheduled for 2025.