Adding routes to head north?

Columbus residents are asking the city’s Area Metropolitan Planning Organization to add more bus routes to the city’s public transportation system.

In a series of three public open houses during the summer months, employees of CAMPO and the Columbus — Bartholomew County Planning Department have been meeting with local residents to discuss possibilities and goals for the city’s long-range transportation plan. The long-range transportation plan is used to help CAMPO secure federal funding for transportation projects throughout Columbus and Bartholomew County.

Several residents have broached the idea of enhancing the ColumBUS routes, said Laura Thayer, CAMPO director.

They have specifically asked to extend the bus lines north to Edinburgh, allowing them to access the mall and Johnson County transportation lines, which could take them all the way to Indianapolis, Thayer said. Additionally, residents have suggested extending the lines south to Walesboro as a convenient mode of transportation for people working in the Walesboro industrial parks, she said.

During the open houses, residents provided feedback on five possible scenarios for improvements, Thayer said. The scenarios include:

Street and road improvements

Road diets and roundabouts

ColumBUS transit service enhancements

Non-motorized transportation infrastructure improvements

East-west road connections

Street and road improvements would focus on resurfacing work and other similar work on local roadways, while road diets would focus on taking wider roads throughout the city and narrowing them to make traffic more efficient and safe.As the name implies, non-motorized transportation improvements would expand sidewalks, trails and other paths designed for bikes and pedestrians.

Finally, east-west road connections would focus on creating alternative routes to travel between the east and west ends of the city.

To help residents understand the effect traffic changes would have on the local traffic flow, Thayer said the various transportation scenarios were accompanied by models of how they would change the average daily traffic count and level of service, or quality of traffic flow, in a given area.

For example, for the first scenario dealing with street and road improvements, CAMPO provided a map of which roads would need the most improvement based on which portions of the city develop the fastest, and how those developments and improvements would affect traffic throughout the rest of the city.

Residents were given four votes to cast in favor of their preferred transportation scenarios, and their votes could either be distributed among different scenarios to show varied interest or all given to one to show extra enthusiasm for one particular scenario, Thayer said.

In addition to the three public open houses, CAMPO also solicited feedback from residents at the Bartholomew County 4-H Fair last month, Thayer said. The organization likely will host one more open house, although the date hasn’t been determined.

Then, Thayer said employees will tally the votes and collect the ideas they have received from the public and begin to shape those ideas into concrete plans.

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Scenario 1: Maintaining and completing resurfacing and other similar improvements to local streets, roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure to ensure the safety of motorists

Scenario 2: Instituting road diets on four-lane roads throughout the city into two-lane roads with a center turn lane to increase traffic efficiency and safety, or installing roundabouts to improve traffic flow

Scenario 3: Extending the ColumBUS routes north to the Edinburgh Outlet Mall to allow residents to connect with Johnson County transit, or south to Walesboro to service residents who work in the industrial parks

Scenario 4: Adding sidewalks in neighborhoods where they currently do not exist, or filling in gaps in existing bicycle and pedestrian trails throughout the city

Scenario 5: Adding more connections between the east and west sides of the city by extending County Road 200 South between State Roads 11 and 46, making improvements along County Road 325 West and Lowell Road or building a railroad overpass on Jonathan Moore Pike