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Editorial: Accidents on city’s west side should prompt traffic strategy

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A recently released traffic study by the Columbus Police Department revealed an important fact: Half of the top 10 crash sites in the city are along Jonathan Moore Pike or on the west side of downtown Columbus.

West-side intersections on the list accounted for more than 48 percent of 366 collisions from 2011 to 2013.

This is significant information that city and county leaders should think about short term and long term because the west side of town is growing significantly in population and economic development. Leaders would be wise to begin planning a west-side traffic strategy now.

Higher speeds on Jonathan Moore Pike contribute greatly to the accidents on the west side of town. The limit is 50 mph on Jonathan Moore Pike, compared to 30 mph on streets in other parts of the city. That reduction can be problematic if motorists traveling east into the downtown aren’t paying attention.

Also, the Interstate 65 exchange is along Jonathan Moore Pike, which brings in drivers from out of town who are unfamiliar with local traffic conditions.

Other conditions are factors.

Train activity on the west side of downtown has been causing backups at key points of the workday, most notably during the morning commute. Frustrated drivers sometimes make risky decisions.

More restaurants and businesses on the west side are attracting people to that area, and population growth is a factor. Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. would like to build another elementary school on the west side before the end of the decade to alleviate the growing number of students.

Residential growth has increased the sheer number of motorists on the west side, and more motorists mean more opportunities for accidents.

The solutions are not immediately clear, but all ideas should be on the table for discussion. That includes reduced speeds, an overpass, an underpass, a bypass and even roundabouts.

This is a safety issue first and foremost, but it’s also an economic-development issue.

Accidents on the west side tie up traffic, making it more difficult for motorists to get to restaurants and businesses. If accidents become more frequent there, that could have a negative impact on businesses.

If anything should be speeding up, it ought to be discussions on how to solve this problem.

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