After a disappointing turnout at her first quarterly forum of the year, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson was glad to see a packed house Thursday night at Liberty Baptist Church off St. Marys Road in south Columbus.
The crowd of well over 100 in the sanctuary of the church offered concerns about transportation issues, especially the intersection of St. Marys and Northstar Drive, a frequent bottleneck that doesn't quite meet the requirements for a traffic signal.
Harry Thomas was one of several people curious about the city's decision to use a roundabout at the intersection instead of a traffic signal. Deputy City Manager David Arrington explained about the intersection not qualifying for a traffic signal, but he assured the crowd that they would be pleased once the roundabout is installed.
Arrington said the intersection has a lot in common with the site of the city's first roundabout, which Arrington said was greeted with suspicion from area residents, but now they embrace it.
"The project is ready to go and we hope by late summer or early fall that we'll have that project bid and be ready for construction," Arrington said. "We had a very similar situation at Blackmon Road and Warm Springs Road. There was a lot of resistance to the roundabout. But after we had it installed, we didn't hear one complaint."
Arrington said that the
roundabout will be built without closing either road, but he warned that doesn't mean there won't be any inconvenience during the construction.
"It will be constructed under traffic flow, as we did at Warm Springs and Blackmon Road," Arrington said. "But there is going to be construction in the middle of the road, so there are going to be delays associated with that. That's the price of having the project done."
Area residents also voiced concerns about services and safe housing for senior citizens, Metra night service for people who work later shifts, dangerous dead trees that need cutting down, tractor trailers parking on residential streets, funding for homeless services, job training subsidies and trash pickup problems.
Afterward, Tomlinson was clearly pleased with the crowd, especially after the March 14 forum at Brookstone School featured more city employees in the crowd than citizens.
"This was a really great one. Whenever we partner with neighborhood associations we have great crowds," Tomlinson said. "I loved the questions. They were varied, and you could really tell that citizens were coming out and asking what's on their minds,"
Tomlinson's next forum will be Sept. 12 at the Springer Opera House, sponsored by Uptown Columbus.