Some Columbus residents face redesign of road with criticism

COLUMBUS, Ind. - A new road project in Columbus is already facing some criticism from drivers less than three weeks after it was completed. Two weeks ago, a stretch of rocky Ford road from Taylor and Talley roads was redesigned.

Prior to the change, the stretch featured two lanes of traffic in each direction. Wednesday, each direction now only features one lane of traffic and an extended bike lane. Turn lanes have also been placed at each intersection.

“This is a safety driven project from the start,” Director of Public Works Dave Hayward said.

Hayward says the city’s motivation behind the project was to reduce the speed of drivers who frequent the stretch. He added that over the years, there have been two pedestrian deaths along the road and city officials want to make sure there isn’t another one.

“We’ve had fatalities, we’re responding. Be patient with it, give it time and I think it will end up being a good improvement,” he said.

Hayward also attributes a low daily traffic volume as reason for the redesign. Originally, the city spent roughly 1.6 million dollars to widen the road in anticipation of area growth that never came. Hayward says the redesign is part of a reevaluation of current trends.

“We have about 5,000 vehicles per day, it usually takes about 15,000 per day before you really start looking at 4 lanes,” he said.

Critics of the redesign have slammed the project as being a waste of money and a sign that the city is pushing the need of cyclists ahead of drivers.

“I don’t understand it, I just think it’s a waste of tax dollars,” Kevin Gruber said.

Hayward says generally the reaction to the redesign has been a “mixed bag.” Despite the criticism, some have applauded the move as being “safety conscious.”

“I appreciate the fact that they put in some new safety designs,” Cindy Massey said.

Hayward says eventually the city will conduct a study to determine whether the design change helped to reduce traffic speed and improve safety on the road.

Whether that study could lead to more changes he said remains to be seen.