City Wants High-Tech Traffic Control

Posted by Columbus Transit On June - 28 - 2010

The City of Columbus wants to invest $36.8 million to purchase a high-tech system that would give traffic controllers direct access to coordinate traffic lights across the city. When traffic backs up because of an accident, congestion, or re-routing, traffic controllers could change lights with a flick of a switch to get cars moving more quickly through intersections.

COTA Offices Move Downtown

Posted by Columbus Transit On June - 28 - 2010

The Central Ohio Transit Authority moved its headquarters downtown recently into the newly remodeled building at 33 North High Street. The $13.6 million renovation of the 10-story downtown building includes a new customer-service counter where passengers can purchase tickets and extensive green features such as energy-saving lighting. COTA is in the process of applying for LEED Certification for the renovation. COTA will utilize seven of the 10 stories and will rent the other three out. Notably, the building does not include parking as COTA employees are expected to utilize the bus.

YPCOTA Kicks Off

Posted by Columbus Transit On June - 17 - 2010

Young Professionals Columbus and COTA have teamed up to encourage 'social transit' through a month-long initiative combining transit with social networking.

New Parking Meter Rates Coming

Posted by Columbus Transit On June - 17 - 2010

Crews are changing the parking meter prices and times on meters in the downtown and Short North area, as well as adding 400 new parking meters to previously free spaces. The changes come after a long debate about how best to up rates to help pay for the construction of a new convention center hotel. The original rate change, pulled from the funding plan for the shelved Columbus Streetcar initiative, upset business owners in the up-and-coming Gay Street area and downtown. A commission revised the plan which was approved and is now being implemented.

Issue 2 and Transit

Posted by Columbus Transit On 9:37 AM

According to unofficial election results, Issue 2 passed overwhelmingly in the state of Ohio, amending the constitution to move the Columbus casino from the Arena District to the West side. With its passage, a revenue-generating tourist attraction moves out of downtown Columbus to a suburban location across from the struggling Westland Mall. This profoundly changes the way transit is affected by the casino.

For background on my own bias, I did not want the casino in the Arena District in the first place not for a moral reason or a fear of lack of parking. Rather, the casino's location would replace a planned condo development in the area. I believe in the necessity of residents in downtown for its vibrancy, and while the casino would have brought people downtown, its off-the-beaten path location would not have done much to help downtown proper. With the original passage of the issue, Penn National Gambling bought the land from the condo developers, ending their construction in the area.

With the introduction of Issue 2, I weighed the options. Without a new downtown location, the casino and its power to draw people in is removed from downtown Columbus. This massive attraction will now not help the core of the city and the condo development it replaced is now either canceled or delayed by the whole process. In that way, this casino issue has been a lose-lose situation for downtown Columbus.

For transit, this provides even more interesting thoughts. We have seen the positive affects Huntington Park has had on the Arena District because of the greater number of games played there. For over a hundred days a year, the Arena District draws people from the suburbs downtown through games at Huntington. The Casino would have drawn people year-round downtown. For a transit system, this would have been extremely helpful. If the proposed North Corridor Light Rail System were ever built, its success could have been aided by the presence of the casino. Instead, the casino's construction on the West side, near 270 provides a draw to further suburban development on a relatively underdeveloped wing of the city. If the casino is successful, this may encourage planners to widen 270 in the area.

While unfortunate, the casino also will be built next door to a rail line itself. This could be a blessing in disguise. If ever Columbus attempts to construct a comprehensive rail system, an East-West line could run directly from Port Columbus to the Casino. With such massive attractions on either end, the line could be well-used even in more suburban locations. In the meantime, we can watch how COTA reacts to the casino's construction by shuffling bus lines to the area.
CBus Transit

3 Response to "Issue 2 and Transit"

  1. Josh Said,

    Broad is a large, almost interstate highway size road pretty much over the entire length of Columbus. I think with that along with the numerous unconnected destinations along the EW corridor, it seems like BRT might be worth looking at.


  2. Anonymous Said,

    There already 3 local routes that serve that location, it is unnecessary to "shuffle" bus lines to the area. The #10 W. Broad, #3 W. Mound and #6 Sullivant all serve the now defunct Westland Mall.

    What may be beneficial is to re-route through the Casino plot instead of Westland, assuming the Casino would allow it. Although most trips on those locals would be work related since local service is generally slow. Not saying that is a bad thing but if you are thinking of patrons using the bus, the chances are minimal.

    I'm not sure why you consider this area "underdeveloped", since nearly every plot of land is developed although much has been abandoned or is in disrepair. It may help revitalize that intersection, if the city can keep the traffic under control while enticing development of surrounding land to something more walkable. Of course this also hinges on the site design of the casino, a sea of parking is going to encourage people to not leave the casino. Then, once they are in their car, the chance they will stop again, at another business, will plummet.

    Something more walkable in design would encourage both improved transit and additional spending by visitors. The problem I foresee with the casino is the lack of patrons after a few years. Being sandwiched in between Cleveland and Cincinnati, not to mention neighboring states, may hurt the life of the Casino. The local market is then Central Ohio, a fairly affluent area of the state comparably. Additionally conventions will continue to serve as a viable market, unfortunately the quickest path to the casino from most convention locations is the highway, bypassing local businesses. Luckily, though, trip times are usually quick and low stress from anywhere within the city.

    I'm skeptical about the Casino for the above reasons. As a side note, the rail line next to the Delphi location is owned by Conrail and looks to be only 2 tracks that merge into 1, not conducive for inner city rail. Plus the right of way for the track is fairly narrow in some spots, limiting potential for construction of 2 way service without having to purchase more ROW.

    The alignment, however, seems to be fairly direct to downtown and may be an ideal alignment for the cost.


  3. While I agree that certain bus routes currently access the area, COTA may want to shuffle stations and even imagine new routes to the bus, especially direct routes from places like downtown, the airport, and the convention center.

    As to underdeveloped, I do not mean that in a negative sense. What I mean is that historically, Columbus has trended Northward and Eastward. For that reason 270 is closest to downtown on the West and South. I do not mean the Westland mall area is not developed, but that in a more general sense, that side of the city has not sprawled as far as other sides.

    I do agree that the Casino provides a great opportunity to create a new mixed-use district and development, but from the things we have already seen from Penn, I see them as less of a community building or stabilizing force than a money making venture.


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