City to propose returning two-way traffic to 10th Street downtown

The Consolidated Government will propose to Columbus Council that11th and 12th Streets remain one-way, east and west, respectively, and that 10th Street be returned to two-way traffic, Deputy City Manager David Arrington said Thursday night.

Speaking at a public hearing on downtown traffic flow changes, Arrington told a crowd of about 50 people that the city looked at three traffic studies that had been done recently and considered several options before settling on changing only 10th Street.

Because one-way streets function best in pairs, Arrington said, it would be best to change all three to two-way or change only one, leaving a pair of opposing one-way streets. And due to concerns over safety of children at St. Luke School crossing 11th so often, that was deemed not to be an option. That left choosing 10th or 12th to change.

Tenth Street was chosen for several reasons, Arrington said.

It would improve response times from Fire Station No. 1, which opens onto 10th.

Currently, to access Veterans Parkway or respond to the east, fire trucks must turn right out of the station, then right on Third Avenue, then right again onto 11th.Tenth Street is also already two-way except for the stretch from Sixth Avenue to Front Avenue.

It would also improve access to government buildings on 10th, such as the county jail, Public Safety Building and government center annex.

Arrington said keeping two one-way streets as they are will reduce the cost of the project and still leave future changes as an option, should whitewater and other downtown growth make that necessary. He estimated that changing 10th Street would cost about $387,000.

In addition to maintaining one-way traffic on 11th Street, the city is proposing another safety feature for the intersection at 3rd Avenue. Arrington said they will propose “bulb-outs” on all four corners that will reduce the amount of time children will be in the street.

A bulb-out extends the curbing and sidewalk out into the street 8-10 feet (the width of a parallel parking space) on each corner. The effect is not only shortening the time in the street, but it also slows traffic through the intersection.

Bulb-outs were used on Broadway during the Streetscapes renovation, and they have been very effective, city Traffic Engineer Ron Hamlett said.

The Rev. Robert Beckum, pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church, attended the public hearing and liked what he heard, especially concerning the bulb-outs.

“I noticed on Broadway they help slow the traffic,” he said. “I think they would help lessen the time the children are in the street, but I think it would help to slow traffic as well.”

Thursday’s meeting was the second of four public hearings on downtown traffic issues. On Friday, a hearing was held on proposed changes in downtown parking regulations.

Another hearing on one-way vs. two-way streets is planned for Thursday, March 7, in Foley Hall at the Springer Opera House.

The issue of downtown parking will again be addressed at a meeting Tuesday, March 12, also in Foley Hall.