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Posts Tagged ‘downtown’

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) continues to add new service late into the weekend hours with the introduction of a new late night route on West Broad Street. Route number #222 is a new bus line launching tonight that connects Downtown Columbus with the Columbus Hollywood Casino from 7pm to 3am on Friday and Saturday nights. (CLICK HERE to view a PDF of the #222 Bus Schedule).

Leadership at COTA worked with officials at the Hollywood Casino to identify transit service that would benefit employees at the casino and also provide enhanced services for casino visitors. During the daytime, COTA operates four lines that service the west side area near the casino — routes #3, #6, #10 and #53.

“Customers routinely request more late night COTA service and we saw the employment opportunities coupled with the entertainment aspect as a way to replicate our Night Owl service in another part of the community,” said Marty Stutz, Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Customer Service at COTA. “From a planning perspective, the casino location serves as a good anchor for the end of a bus line, and West Broad Street is a busy transit corridor.”

COTA launched the #21 Night Owl route in 2009 servicing North High Street from Clintonville to Downtown Columbus during similar late night weekend timeframes. The service was originally targeted at Ohio State University students, but it proved popular enough to warrant expansion in 2010 and now continues on South High Street to German Village and the Brewery District.

“Increasingly we’re seeing more non-students riding including people who live along the High Street corridor getting to and from jobs or using it for recreation,” said Stutz. “For instance, Downtown or Victorian Village residents may take the Night Owl to events at the Wexner Center, and Clintonville residents may ride to movies at the South Campus Gateway.”

Similarly, while the new #222 service is being launched with casino visitors and employees in mind, Stutz expects to see a combination of vistors staying at Downtown hotels riding to the casino as well as other west side residents using it to travel to other destinations. Routes #21 and #222 have a transfer connection point at the Nationwide and High bus stops.

Beyond the #222, additional late night service could be launched if public demand warrants it. COTA is hosting the first of three Short-Range Transit Plan Update (SRTP) meetings where they will engage the public on the future needs of the community.

“It’s really a decision that will be made after we have a greater understanding of our customers’ needs balanced with the financial resources needed to add late night service,” says Stutz.

If you’re unable to attend the meetings, you can still provide feedback through an online form on COTA’s website.

More information can be found online at www.cota.com.

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Downtown is gaining approximately 325 new bike parking spaces Downtown as the installation of six bike shelters, bike lockers, indoor bike parking rooms and 70 bike racks is completed. The project was made possible through a federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant awarded to the city of Columbus through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The project is being executed through a partnership between the City of Columbus and Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District.

“Federal recovery funding has helped our city emerge from the recession and is now assisting our efforts to become one of the best bike cities in the nation,” said Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “These bike shelters and other bike parking encourage more people to ride bikes and make us a greener and healthier city.”

The six new bike shelters are located on the sidewalks near the following intersections:

  • East Long Street and North Front Street
  • North High Street and Hickory Street
  • East Broad Street and North 3rd Street
  • East Broad Street and 4th Street
  • South High Street and East State Street
  • West Mound Street and South Front Street

Each shelter can park 18 bikes covered by a “green roof” topped with drought-tolerant plants that absorb rainwater. The indoor bike rooms are located at the City of Columbus and Franklin County offices. Additional bike racks have been placed strategically throughout all of Downtown. The city of Columbus provided Capital Crossroads with $490,000 to manage the installation of the entire project.

“The bicycle facilities give downtown employees another amenity. We anticipate a large increase in bicycle commuting over the next several years,” said Cleve Ricksecker, Executive Director of Capital Crossroads. “Downtown’s central location and street grid allow it accommodate employers who want to give their employees travel options.”

More information about the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District can be found online at DowntownColumbus.com.

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Every year, global commercial real estate organization Colliers International produces an annual survey on parking garage rates across the United States and Canada which they compile into a public report. Columbus was noteworthy in that there was zero change between 2011 and 2012’s pricing, while the national average rate of increase was 1.6 percent.

“This year’s report shows that Columbus’s parking rates have held strong and are now listed as below the national average for monthly parking rates,” said  Leslie Hobbs, Director of Marketing at Colliers International for the Greater Columbus Region.

The average cost of parking in a covered or underground parking garage in Columbus is $95 per month, while the national average is $164.80 per month. The city at the top of the list is New York City, where in Midtown Manhattan the average cost is $562 per month.

To read the full report, visit www.collierscanada.com.

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Originally posted HERE on ColumbusUnderground.com:

The previously approved 50% parking rate increase throughout Downtown and The Short North has been halted for six months pending further study and additional recommendations by the parking meter working group assigned to oversee rate adjustments. The resetting of the meters will begin as early as tomorrow.

Thanks to everyone who helped to support the online petition and who voiced their concerns with this issue. Please take a moment to contact The Mayor’s Office and the Public Service Department and thank them for addressing this issue.

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In many instances, I’ve been impressed with some of the parking-related adjustments that have come out of City Hall lately.

The scooter & motorcycle parking initiative that was rolled out last year was done in a swift and effective manner to provide not only additional parking revenue for the city, but also to provide a progressive service to two-wheeler riders that has actually gotten a bit of national attention.

The city has also been testing a variety of new “smart” meters that accept credit cards, are solar powered, and have wi-fi functionality. Nice.

And just two months ago, there was an announcement that the city would be lifting rush hour parking restrictions in very specific key areas throughout Downtown to allow parking to remain in front of businesses where parking can be very difficult to find. Again, a win for both parking revenue, as well as both businesses and customers.

But today I’m disappointed. Several folks at City Hall have decided that without any public input there will be a 50% rate hike to all parking meters across the board throughout the city, which includes the Downtown, German Village, and Short North areas. Of the $4.6 million in revenue this is expected to raise, $1.4 million of it will be going towards bonds to fund the development of the new Convention Center Hotel scheduled to open in 2012.

Additionally, some areas (mainly the Short North) will have meter enforcement times expanded from 6pm to 9pm, and additional 1,800 meters are to be added to the current 4,200 throughout the city. I would have to imagine that these new meters may wind up in new areas on the near east and near west sides as well as new areas around the Ohio State University and perhaps even up into Clintonville.

Don’t get me wrong… I think that meter rates in certain areas could stand to be slightly higher, and enforcement hours in certain spots are due for an update. The urban landscape has changed quite a bit in the past 10 years, and parking (like everything) should evolve to fit the needs of the public. Enforcing meter parking near open businesses means that parking spots are regularly being turned over, making it easier for new customers to park close to their destinations.

The two biggest things that concern me is the fact that this plan was put together behind closed doors without any form of public input, and that the changes being made are wide and sweeping rather than being done with precision and care. Different streets have different needs. Park Street next to the North Market is a completely different animal than Town Street near the Topiary Park. Why should they be looked at through the same lens?

I think it’s also a bit concerning about how some of this information is being pushed out to the public. I’ve heard several city officials state that current meter rates have been untouched in over 10 years, which is not at all true. Perhaps they see a difference between “raising the rates” and “lowering the time given per quarter” but to anyone else, it’s the same thing.

We’re also being promised the rollout of the aforementioned “smart” meter heads throughout the city, which I do think would be a great technological upgrade. Of course, this is all being promised as something that will happen down the road, and is taking a back seat to the $1.4 Million allocated to bonds to pay for the new Convention Center Hotel. I think the new hotel is a great development, but this funding scenario is a bit ridiculous. This new hotel is going to benefit the entire Central Ohio region, and yet only people who rely on parking Downtown are being forced to chip in to pay for it.

The redevelopment of Downtown as a whole has seen a lot of progress over the past 10 years, much of which is due to city policies that make living, working, and hanging out Downtown a more attractive option than it was before. I’m afraid that increasing the inconvenience by such a drastic amount is going to have an overall negative impact on the area. Instead of heading to the Short North to shop, people are going to go to Easton where parking is free. Instead of going Downtown to dine, people are going to go to Polaris where parking is free. Instead of opening a new business Downtown, entrepreneurs are going to establish themselves in pretty much any other part of the city where their customers and clients can park for free.

Personally, this isn’t going to stop me from going Downtown, and I really do hope that it won’t stop too many others. I’ve always said that both driving and parking will need to become more inconvenient throughout Central Ohio before mass transit development becomes an attractive option for the general public. I just think that it’s a bit ridiculous to force that inconvenience upon the one area in town that needs it the least while the rest of the city remains unchanged and unchallenged. As someone who rarely deals with cash and pocket change anymore, I probably won’t be able to park at meters except on very rare occasions. If we were getting the credit-card accepting meters up front this would not be an issue. Instead, I’ll be giving more of my transit budget to COTA, as I can ride the bus easily without fishing for silver change from the couch cushions before leaving the house. If any good is going to come from this, I imagine it will be in the form of increased bus ridership and bike ridership.

Again… very disappointed in all of this.

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According to a Dispatch article this morning, ODOT has approved plans to divide the 70/71 Split project into two parts. The first being the eastern leg of 71 through Downtown running between I-670 and I-70, with a $512 million price tag. The second leg is the actual split running through the south end of Downtown where interstates 70 and 71 overlap. This second portion has been downgraded to a Tier II Funding Request, which means that the funding from ODOT has not been approved as of yet, and this part of project is not actually guaranteed to happen anymore.

The eastern portion of I-71 is home to the majority of the crash problems, and the article makes it sound as if ODOT is fully dedicated to fixing the neighborhood connectivity issues by committing $10 million towards building caps, potentially on the Spring, Long, and Broad Streets bridges. MORPC has also previously pledged an additional $12 million for highway caps. The full Dispatch article can be read here.

More information on the project can be found on the official ODOT project website.

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Press Release
COTA to Acquire Downtown Property for Administrative Offices
Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) has entered into an agreement to purchase an office building at 33 N. High Street in downtown Columbus. The purchase, which is contingent on the approval of the COTA Board of Trustees and completion of due diligence and analysis, will enable the Authority to relocate administrative and sales functions along with itsdowntown bus operator reporting station into a single, ADA accessible, COTA-owned facility.

“The opportunity to acquire the 33 N. High building provides COTA with a presence near Broad and High streets where much of our service operates, permits our employees to utilize the service we provide to the community and offers us greater visibility and convenience to our customers and the community,” said Bill Lhota, President/CEO.

In 2006, COTA announced its intention to relocate administrative operations from overcrowded space at its McKinley Avenue fixed-route bus and maintenance facility to a strategic location in the central business district. About 100 COTA employees will work in the building which has about 72,000 square feet and several long-term tenants.

“Our new location will also permit COTA to hold Board meetings and other public meetings in our own building with convenient access to public transportation,” Lhota said. COTA would like to commence operations at 33 N. High Street by the 3 rd quarter of 2009.

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Completing the cycle
The Alive
By Chris DeVille
May 22, 2008

Columbus residents have plenty of reasons to get on a bike. The city has been promoting its Commit To Be Fit initiative for years. Environmental consciousness is on the rise. So are gas prices. In a car-dominated city, alternative modes of transportation are on the brain.

Last year the city decided to draft a plan to make biking safer and easier for novices and experienced riders alike. They hired Alta, a nationally known group on the cutting edge of bike-focused urban planning. The move caught the attention of Bicycling magazine, which recognized Columbus in the June issue’s “Best Cities for Cycling” feature as one of “Five for the Future.”

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Pedal pushers
The Alive
By Brittany Kress
May 22, 2008

Cycling through High Street traffic while pulling two adults in a carriage on wheels isn’t as easy as it sounds. Oh, right. It doesn’t sound easy.

But a month into business for Columbus’ startup foot-powered pedicab service, people are into it, with drivers excited about getting paid to get fit and riders interested in supporting a green business.

ETC Pedicabs is a Downtown-centric service that kicked off at the beginning of the month and operates whenever Mike Sorboro’s loose association of drivers wants to troll the area — usually on nights and weekends.

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Rail road
The Alive
By John Ross
May 22, 2008

Modern streetcars are similar in spirit — though not in appearance or functionality — to the trolleys that lined Columbus streets before being ripped up starting in 1933.

Of the 15 largest metropolitan areas in the United States, only Columbus, San Antonio and Indianapolis lack some system of rail-based transit, according to Alive research.

Benefits, proponents say, are many: decreased dependence on cars, increased commercial development along routes, a boost in tourism, and a better image projected to companies and young professionals the city strives to attract.

“The subway system in New York started with one line,” said Walker Evans, founder of ColumbusUnderground.com and a leading civic advocate for streetcars. “By starting small and using this unique funding package, it could get the ball rolling without increasing taxes. I think once people get a taste of streetcars, they’ll be more likely to support something regional.”

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