I-70/71 plan shrinks parks
ODOT proposal would restore lost features, land
Friday, November 28, 2008 3:18 AM
By Debbie Gebolys
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Plans for rebuilding the I-70/71 corridor Downtown aren’t final, but one thing is: The improved highway will nip off parts of two parks.
The Ohio Department of Transportation will show plans for changes to Dodge Park in Franklinton and Scioto Audubon Metro Park on the Whittier Peninsula at a public hearing from 3 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at Dodge Recreation Center, 667 Sullivant Ave.
Officials with Columbus Recreation and Parks, Metro Parks and the state began talks this past summer about how to soften the highway project’s impact on the parks, ODOT spokeswoman Nancy Burton said.
In two highway proposals under consideration, new lanes would help untangle traffic through Downtown. That would encroach on the southwest corner of Dodge Park and the north end of Scioto Audubon.
At Dodge Park, nestled between Rt. 315 and the Scioto River just north of I-70/71, ODOT needs 2 acres of the roughly 16-acre park. Baseball fields also used for soccer and football and part of the walking trail that connects to the Downtown trail will be in the way of new highway ramps, Burton said.
ODOT would pay the city fair market value for the 2 acres and would buy adjacent land where the trail could be rerouted and fields rebuilt at the state’s expense.
“We will restore this park, including the baseball field and walking trail,” Burton said.
Dodge’s swimming pool, recreation center, skate park and hockey rink wouldn’t be affected.
“When it’s said and done, we have a nicer park,” said Mollie O’Donnell, city parks planning administrator.
Burton said work near Dodge could begin in 2011 if plans are finalized soon.
Five years later, above the Whittier Peninsula, work should begin to widen the highway to five lanes for through traffic and three separate lanes in each direction for ramps. ODOT needs 3 acres for a wider highway bridge.
ODOT will build another trail access from the north, and pave under the bridge and install trail lights, Burton said. The state also will build a retaining wall, landscape and control erosion along the northern edge of the developing park.
The total impact is 5 percent of the planned 71-acre park, including the bikeway.
Metro Parks Executive Director John O’Meara said the park system might build its first skate park on the pavement under the bridge.
“It’s not going to have a big negative impact,” he said of the highway project.
ODOT will buy the affected land from Columbus and Metro Parks.
“The buy is probably six years away,” O’Meara added. “2016 is when they’re aiming to build this thing.”
I-70/71 plan shrinks parks
December 1, 2008 by John