Columbus is growing at a rapid rate: By 2050, the city is predicted to have a population of 3 million people. City leaders and others formed a public-private partnership to study how they can best prepare the city for that growth.
The study released by COTA, the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Committee (MORPC) and the Urban Land Institute intends to give a preemptive look at how growth impacts a city, says Columbus Council president Shannon Harden. He compares Columbus’ growth to other places like Nashville and Austin.
“The one thing they missed was critical early planning,” Hardin says. “And using the tools and the cooperation and collaboration with our partners, public or private, to grow in a smart way that is more equitable, that helps us solve some of our issues around housing and inclusion and helps up create a healthier community.”
The study zeroed in on five corridors to target for transit and denser development:
- East Main Street from Downtown to Route 256 in Reynoldsburg
- Downtown along Cleveland Avenue north through Westerville to just across the Delaware County line at Polaris Parkway
- Downtown to Routes 33/161 in Dublin at Post Road, including Olentangy River, Bethel and Sawmill roads
- Downtown to Rickenbacker International Airport, including Parsons Avenue and Alum Creek Drive
- Downtown along West Broad Street to Norton Road
These areas were chosen in part because of their size – they are all centered around streets that have enough room for a dedicated bus lane, for example.
“If you look at these five corridors some are ready for redevelopment, others are high income, others are middle income, others are low income, some have congestion, some don’t,” says William Murdock, executive director of MORPC.
“If we’re really going to make this study and its next steps about the region, we wanted to look at very different places of the region and how that might work, how that might apply," Murdock continued.
He says the goal is to create areas of the city that are walkable, have affordable housing and access to public transit, in hopes that people coming to the city will want to move there. That would hopefully help distribute density, reduce traffic congestion and even help with air quality.
“As we look at going down this path, at the same time we’re going to have to look at what are the zoning rules and the financial tools that we can use to insure that we have vibrant mixed income neighborhoods,” says Steve Schoeney, director of the Columbus Department of Development.
Next, the group hopes to begin testing out some ideas from the plan, including temporary transit enhancements and business enhancements in certain communities.