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A Detailed Look At Infrastructure Plans Surrounding OhioHealth's New Columbus HQ

The City of Columbus, OhioHealth, and the Ohio Department of Transportation are collaborating on a series of public infrastructure projects to improve access within the North Broadway and Olentangy River Road corridors. The city held two forums on the projects yesterday. Mike Foley has more on the proposed changes.

The improvements stem from OhioHealth’s decision to build a new administrative office at the southeast corner of Olentangy River Road and State Route 315 – just across the street from Riverside Hospital. Roland Tokarski, OhioHealth vice president for real estate, construction and facilities, says the 270,000 square-foot campus will accommodate about 16-hundred non-clinical OhioHealth associates.

“After 45 different sites and a lot of effort and time, we ended up on this site, mainly because of the ability to pull everybody together in a central location. The other thing was that the city stepped in as a partner and said if you were to consider this location, we’ll work on the infrastructure in and around the Olentangy River Road corridor to make this accessible for your associates.  That was one of the biggest things we struggled with in our downtown location was the accessibility and parking. “

Michelle Larsen with the city’s economic development division hosts one of the breakout sessions at the first public forum on improvements to 315 and associated intersections.

“Here is currently the northbound ramp onto North Broadway, we call it the pinball ramp. That will go away likely this summer. This current exit northbound to Olentangy River Road will be realigned to meet more directly with what’s currently an unnamed city street. It’s an east-west road that will be improved to city standards and will have a shared use path on one side. This north-south road will be called OhioHealth Boulevard. Intersection improvements will be made here at North Broadway as OhioHealth Boulevard intersects into it, and then this will be a new southbound exit ramp from 315 onto North Broadway to relieve some of the traffic pressure from Thomas Lane.” 

Larsen says there will be signage improvements and enhancements for bike and pedestrian connectivity. But most residents at the first open house wanted more bike and pedestrian access. Here’s an exchange between North Broadway resident Jane Hoffelt and Steven Schmidt of the city’s division of design and construction.

“I would like to say they’ve addressed this, and this is their recommendation for the future. They’re going to be working toward this.”

“You want to know a game plan. I think that’s a fair question. I can tell you that we that discussion internally to include it as part of the project, and it was ultimately determined that it wouldn’t be. If you guys fill out comment cards and say we think this is the most important part of the project, then that gives us an opportunity to look at it again because we’re hearing more feedback that we don’t get when we’re in internal meetings at the roundtable.”

“Holistically, this is a fabulous opportunity to engage the entire neighborhood on a corridor to OhioHealth and to do the mayor’s plan of the biking friendly thing, and he lives in the area by the way. If he wants to bike to OhioHealth, he can’t get there safely right now. So if we can just take the $46 million and do a little extra study and make some plans, that would be swell and we could work toward that with the help of the community which we have.”

“I think that’s a fair request, but I hope you understand I can’t promise you anything.”

For residents unable to attend the forums, the city will be accepting comments until June 12th. Larsen says the road enhancements should be finished by the end of next year. OhioHealth officials are targeting the spring of 2019 as a move-in date for their employees at the new campus.  

Mike Foley joined WCBE in February 2000, coming from WUFT in Gainesville, Florida. Foley has worked in various roles, from producing news and feature stories to engineering Live From Studio A sessions. A series of music features Foley started in 2018 called Music Journeys has grown into a podcast and radio show. He also assists in developing other programs in WCBE's Podcast Experience. Foley hosts The Morning Mix, a weekday music show featuring emerging and established musicians, our Columbus-area and Ohio-based talent, and additional artists that inspire him.
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