COTA chief hears furor over turnaround
Thursday, July 15, 2010 11:33 PM
By Doug Caruso
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
COTA’s president went to Clintonville tonight to smooth over opposition to demolishing a strip center for a bus turnaround.
But if any of the more than 70 people were swayed by what Bill Lhota had to say, they weren’t saying so.
Neighbors questioned the site, the cost, the fumes and whether commuters would park in front of their homes to catch the bus at the turnaround.
The Central Ohio Transit Authority is in contract to purchase a small strip mall at the southeast corner of Kanawha and High streets for $1.1 million. It would replace Graceland Shopping Center as the place where most buses running along High Street turn south for Downtown.
Lhota said shopping-center owner Casto has told COTA that as Graceland redevelops, it eventually won’t be able to accommodate the buses. Turning them nearly 4 miles to the north at Crosswoods would cost an additional $2 million in operating costs each year, he said.
There are a couple of reasons I don’t particularly like this move, but if Graceland is really not going to be an option in the future, then I think COTA’s plans make sense for them.
My first concern is losing a major park and ride option. Most of the existing park and riders will either have to find a different place to park along the route or not ride at all. Parking somewhere else could mean on a residential street, which might annoy a resident somewhere, but I’d be even more concerned that existing riders might just choose to drive to work if they do not have a convenient parking option.
UPDATE: I’m told that there is no official park and ride at Graceland, which surprised the hell out of me because I know my parents park there to go to OSU football games. So that’s not a concern, but I wonder if anyone is parking there on a daily basis?
My second concern is how service may change. Right now, many buses loop around Graceland, which helps get customers closer to the west end of the shopping center, including Kroger. With the new layover location, COTA will either travel straight up High Street or be forced to take a time-consuming detour into a destination that isn’t the route terminal. Some trips already head straight up High, so that’s not really a big problem, but it does mean longer walks for customers going to the west end of Graceland. The detour probably isn’t that big a deal either since it’s so close to the end of the line. It’s really only an annoyance if you are getting on or off north of Graceland.
All-in-all the Kanawha turnaround seems like a good option, although the community still seems upset about losing the strip mall. Of course, the best alternative would be to leave the bus terminal at Graceland, if that were an option.