City OKs gas station location despite safety concerns

City officials have approved allowing a new Ricker’s gas station and convenience store on Columbus’ west side even as a city councilwoman said locating it there could jeopardize safety.
Columbus City Council on Tuesday approved allowing the station on about seven acres off of Jonathan Moore Pike at Westwood Boulevard in the Tipton Lakes area. The new station would be across from a CVS drug store on the opposite corner, on property that is currently vacant.
The lone vote against allowing a gas station on the property was councilwoman Laurie Booher, who said the increase in traffic and lack of designated turn lanes at the traffic light would cause traffic backups at the intersection.
The light, which is the next intersection after Goeller Road, does not have three lanes — one for left turns, one for right turns, and a middle lane for traveling across 46, Booher said. The area is where State Road 46 returns to two-lane traffic heading west toward Nashville. The light also does not have a designated arrow for motorists to turn left.
“This is a huge safety issue for traffic,” she said of adding congestion at the intersection.
Describing the intersection as dangerous, Booher predicted traffic backups will increase the safety problems as those traveling off of Westwood try to turn either right or left on Jonathan Moore Pike.
When council members asked if the intersection could be modified to add turn lanes and a designated turn signal, Dave Hayward, executive director of public works and city engineer, explained that State Road 46 is governed by the Indiana Department of Transportation.
As far as the city knows, INDOT has no plans to change the configuration of the intersection or the light, he said.
Developers needed to go before the Columbus Plan Commission and city council because gas stations are not a permitted use at that intersection in the planned unit development for the Westwood area, according to the city-county planning department. Gas stations are permitted in other areas of the planned unit development, but special use permission was needed for this particular acreage.
The current mix in the planned unit development is offices, retail and the Westwood Pines Apartments, a department report about the request states. There are also nearby homes with access off Westwood Boulevard including Woodcrest Villas, a single-family residential neighborhood. The entire Westwood planned unit development is about
40 acres.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.