City Plans Highway Through Downtown

Residents hoping for a freshly paved Columbus Drive may be dismayed to learn they will soon be losing a valuable parking as the city prepares to expand the roadway into a five lane highway. The city intends to realign Columbus Drive with six lanes of traffic; during rush hour, parking would be prohibited on one side of the street to create three lanes of traffic in one direction, and two in the opposite direction.

The expansion project will extend as far east as Warren Street. The current taxi cab stand on Columbus drive will displace metered parking on Grove Street and extend onto Wayne Street. Resident and meter parking along Columbus will be eliminated during rush hours. The city plans one widening the roadway during the repaving process by removing existing curb extensions, trees, and eliminating parking spaces. Parking will be prohibited on the eastbound side of the street during the mornings and the westbound side of the street in the afternoons. In effect, residents will be unable to park on Columbus during the day unless they can move their cars between the morning the evening rush. Enforcement will be coordinated by the East District police. Further expansion to full time six lane roadway will need the approval of the city council.

The expansion of the roadway will also send traffic onto local residential streets such as Jersey Avenue and Erie Street; Erie is already known to be hazardous because of high traffic volumes. The city contends improvements to signal timing, resin crosswalks, and new handicapped ramps will compensate for the wider distance pedestrians have to cross the busy street.

The city received a state grant to cover the cost of the repaving the street as far Jersey Avenue. According to Councilman Fulop, the grant does not require realigning the roadway.

Last year, the city doubled the capacity of Grand Street to the chagrin of residents who have lost parking along the street. The road is now four lanes at all times; resident contend the wider roadway presents a danger to pedestrians, particularly because city officials refuse to activate a new traffic light at Barrow Street.

The city insists adding a lane of traffic is not an expansion but merely a cosmetic streetscape project. Typically,a 1% percent increase in travel lanes results in an increase of traffic volume by .9% within 5 years.

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