Input sought on intersection

Columbus residents will have a first look at the city’s ideas for improving pedestrian and bicycle pathways at the second Plan4Health open house next week.

Columbus Regional Health’s Reach Healthy Communities program received a $125,000 Plan4Health grant from the American Planning Association last year to study and design improvements to the local pedestrian and bicycle infrastructure systems. The idea is to create a safer environment for walkers and cyclists, which promotes healthier lifestyles across Columbus.

Working with the Columbus — Bartholomew County Planning Department, Reach Healthy Communities conducted an open house Aug. 27 to allow residents to provide input on pedestrian and cyclist safety in the area between Noblitt, Donner and Lincoln parks. Participants were asked to provide feedback on five specific intersections in three areas of those neighborhoods:

Washington and 17th streets

Central Avenue at 17th and 19th streets

Hawcreek Avenue at 17th and 19th streets

Based on that feedback, the planning department will present conceptual design improvements for the Central Avenue and Hawcreek Avenue intersections at the next Plan4Health open house Tuesday.

Draft construction drawings, which are more detailed than conceptual improvements, will be presented for the 17th and Washington streets intersection.

The planning department developed a more detailed plan for 17th and Washington streets because a 2008 study highlighted that intersection as needing improvements for pedestrian and cyclist safety, said Emilie Pinkston, planning department senior planner.

Additionally, the results of the initial open house showed that residents’ safety concerns extended beyond the five key intersections that were initially identified as problem areas, Pinkston said.

That’s why conceptual design improvements will also be presented for three additional intersections:

Washington and 16th streets

Central Avenue at 22nd Street

Central Avenue at 25th street

Residents’ input was varied, Pinkston said, but focused on basic safety concerns.

“They don’t feel safe about speeds, and there are no pedestrian signals in some of these places, so it may be awhile before they feel safe to cross,” she said.

Following the plan presentations on Tuesday, residents can provide any additional ideas for infrastructure improvements during a question and answer session.

The open house will also feature a short activity to gather more ideas for improving the safety of walkers and cyclists.

The Plan4Health grant is designated only for studies and designs relating to infrastructure improvements, not the actual construction process, said Jeff Bergman, city and county planning director.

Right now, Columbus does not have funds specifically allocated for pedestrian and cyclist safety improvements, so the Plan4Health grant is a first step toward promoting a more active lifestyle in the city, Bergman said.

“This will get us further down the road to getting where we want to be,” he said.

If you go

What: Plan4Health open house

When: 6 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Donner Center, 739 22nd St.

What it’s about: Presentation of plans for bicyclist, pedestrian safety improvements, with a question and answer session to follow

Who: Hosted by Reach Healthy Communities and the Columbus-Bartholomew County Planning Department

About the presentations

The Plan4Health presentation will feature two different plans for bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure improvements.

One plan will offer conceptual design improvements to seven intersections in Columbus:

  • Washington and 16th streets
  • Central Avenue at 17th, 19th, 22nd and 25th streets
  • Hawcreek Avenue at 17th and 19th streets

The second plan will focus on draft construction drawings for improvements to the 17th and Washington street intersection. Construction drawings provide more detail than conceptual design improvements.

Author photo
Olivia Covington is a reporter for The Republic. She can be reached at ocovington@therepublic.com or 812-379-5712.