The State Street redevelopment project has had an ongoing focus of making the route friendly for pedestrians and bicycle riders. That makes a change in the plan to link it to downtown Columbus sensible.
Soon after Jim Lienhoop took office as mayor in January, his administration began looking closer at the feasibility of the State Street redevelopment project continuing into the downtown area via Third Street. It decided that Third Street would not be conducive for increased pedestrian and bicycling traffic because of about 20,000 vehicles that pass along the route each day. Additional study of the project suggested a better route — down Fifth Street past many of the city’s architectural gems, finishing at Mill Race Park.
The new route — which will become the city’s first urban trail — seems much better than the original one. For starters, it’s safer because Fifth Street is far less busy. That reduces the risk of a bicyclist or pedestrian being hit by a vehicle, which always needs to be at the forefront of discussions and planning.
Also, the route allows pedestrians and bicycle riders to see along the way beautiful examples of art and architecture: the Irwin Home and Gardens, the “Large Arch” sculpture, Bartholomew County Public Library, First Christian Church, the Cummins Corporate Office Building and the “Eos” sculpture. Considering that Columbus is world-renowned for its architecture, it makes sense for any urban trail corridor through the city to tap into that heritage. A corridor that did not would be a missed opportunity.
Altering the route will add $893,000 to the cost of the project, but as with the rest of the State Street project the additional funds would come from tax-increment financing revenues.
Changes to the plan were considered and made by the Columbus Redevelopment Commission as an action item during a July 18 public meeting. On Tuesday, the Board of Public Works and Safety and the City Council will each act on items necessary for the project to move forward. The Board of Works will vote on the contract for the firm designing the Fifth Street portion, while the council will vote on an amended contract for the hired engineering firm to reflect the changes.
Both meetings are an opportunity for residents to share their thoughts about the project. We, though, believe the route change is for the best because of the beautiful scenery and greater safety it affords.