Traffic on 18th Avenue will be reversed until April, from eastward to westward, to accommodate construction on 19th Avenue, according to Facilities Operations and Development project manager Tom Ekegren.
Ohio State officials are asking pedestrians to walk on the north side of the street while vehicular traffic will operate on the south side. The normally pedestrian-only area on 18th will be open to vehicular traffic to Neil Avenue.
To replace spots formerly on 18th and 19th avenues, disability parking has been added to the Arps and Northwest parking garages, said Sarah Blouch, director of Transportation and Parking.
“It’s not as close, but those were the most logical places,” Blouch said. “It’s a little less convenient but there’s not much we can do.”
Blouch said they haven’t gotten much feedback on the change, but thinks “everybody understands.”
The project team made observations of the traffic alignment last week and made changes to improve flow, Ekegren said.
“We made a few minor tweaks,” he said, “but the game plan seems to be working.”
Some students have had problems with the change on 18th.
“I bike, so if I go up the street, I’m going against traffic,” said Tony Ward, a fourth-year in pre-physical therapy. “But I can’t go on the pedestrian path because there are so many people I have to zigzag.”
Student associate Mackenzie Gross doesn’t like the new configuration because it slows her down on the way to her office in the Mathematics Tower. But she doesn’t blame just Ohio State.
“People are terrible at following traffic rules,” Gross said. “Pedestrians in Columbus just think they can walk anywhere.”
Campus will be under construction until 2015, as part of the Academic Core North infrastructure improvements. The Academic Core North is the campus district from Tuttle Park Place to High Street from west to east, and Woodruff to 17th Avenue from north to south.
The construction on 19th is on a duct bank, or an underground conduit to protect cables between buildings. Once construction on 19th is completed in April, construction on 17th Avenue will begin, and the traffic flow on 18th will again be reversed, back to its original eastward flow. The two projects have an $11 million budget.
These projects are all part of OSU’s recently completed Framework Plan, aimed to physically enhance campus as part of President E. Gordon Gee’s vision to create “One University.”
OSU will spend $191 million on five construction projects over the next five years, according to a Facilities Operations and Development presentation Dec. 6.
Ekegren, FOD engineer Faye Bodyke and OSU’s lead architect, Bernie Costantino, said the future look of campus between 17th and Woodruff avenues will include new buildings, a revamped RPAC Plaza and more green space.
In the next year-and-a-half, construction will also begin on the $126 million Chemical Biomolecular Engineering & Chemistry Building on Woodruff, $43 million East Regional Chilled Water Plant and $11 million Woodruff Avenue rebuild.