Columbus wants to change street names

It's the darndest thing — two different roads in two different stretches have the same names: Abbott Avenue and Crockett Drive.

They're in Columbus' Maridele Estates area, east of River Road and south of 54th Street, and they're divided by a creek. Where that creek divides them, each route comes to a sharp turn. Where each hits that turn, each street's name turns into the other's.

From Morris Avenue west to the turn at the creek is Crockett Drive. From there it becomes Abbott Avenue south to where it splits at 50th Street and Maridele Drive.

On the other side of the creek, from 54th Street south to the sharp turn, is Abbott Avenue. From there it becomes Crockett Drive southwest to Lichfield Road.

Apparently the roads have been that way for about 50 years, said Donna Newman, Columbus' engineering director. But now city administrators want to fix this abrupt change in street names by changing the streets' names so they don't duplicate. They fear confusion could cause a delay in the emergency response to a 911 call.

Columbus Police Maj. Stan Swiney said an officer dispatched recently to talk to a resident on one of the streets couldn't find the right address. He was on one side of the creek when he needed to be on the other, and it took him some time to find his way around it.

Authorities worry that in a life-threatening situation, an ambulance or police officer won't reach someone's home in time.

So here's the city's proposal: From Morris Avenue west to the turn at the creek, change Crockett Drive to Abbott Avenue. From 54th Street south to the turn at the creek, change Abbott Avenue to Crockett Drive.

These changes would affect fewer residents — about 30 in all — than changing the streets' other stretches, Newman said. And this way finding addresses in the area won't be so confusing.

If you think it's confusing now, try changing your address after the city changes your street's name, said Jimmy Gray, 62, who for 11 years has lived at 937 Crockett Drive, which would become Abbott Avenue.

"I've counted up, right off the top of my head, 12 places I've got to have my address changed — including Social Security, and that's a nightmare in itself," Gray said. Besides, streets often stop in one place and pick up in another, or switch names along the same route, he said.

Gray doesn't think any change is needed: "I've never known anybody up here who hasn't been able to get a policeman or an ambulance. I've never known of any catastrophe up here."

His neighbor, Steve Ausburn, 52, also worries about the confusion that could result from changing the street name, not about any confusion caused by leaving it like it is. He said he's currently unemployed, and has filled out job applications with his current address of 931 Crockett Drive. He fears missing a job opportunity if Crockett becomes Abbott.

Firefighters and police officers ought to be able to find addresses with the global positioning system, or GPS, he said.

Swiney said that with the city about to hire additional law enforcement, a lot of new officers will join the force, and rookies these days usually aren't people who grew up here. They'll have maps and GPS, but they won't have the intimate knowledge of neighborhoods that longtime residents do.

The city surveyed residents to get their views on the proposed name changes, but got only 15 responses. Of those, one resident favored the changes and 14 did not, Newman said.

City leaders have scheduled a meeting with residents Tuesday at 5 p.m. at the Pop Austin Recreation Center, 1331 Alexander St.