The List: A first look at ODOT's upcoming plans for Columbus roads

Andy Downing
A homemade sign declaring "ODOT Sucks" to drivers on state Route 161 has graced the side of an uninhabited house for more than a decade. But the property has been sold, and the new owner is renovating the house, leaving the fate of the sign in question.

Over the last several months, Columbus drivers have been navigating a series of changes to established traffic routes, with key highway ramps shuttering (adios, eastbound access to I-70 from Third Street) and frequent lane changes that Dispatch columnist Theodore Decker rightly compared to a highway “Hokey Pokey,” writing:

"We put the left lane in

We take the right lane out

We put the center in

Then we shake you all about"

ODOT’s traffic engineers haven’t exactly helped their public perception with some of the suggested alternate routes. When the Third Street ramp closed, for example, one ODOT-proposed route was to have drivers take Spring Street to Neil Avenue to I-670 East to I-71 South to I-70 East, which was exhausting enough to type, let alone attempt in a vehicle.

But, patience, Columbus! ODOT has more changes in the works that should finally clear these traffic snarls right up, and we got our hands on the plans. Here's a first look at some of the additional changes commuters can expect in the coming months and years.

Massive changes to I-70 (target: June 2024)

The length of I-70 running through Downtown is scheduled to be converted into a 36-mile concrete Mobius strip. But even driving in an endless, eternal circle, the mere suggestion of rain is still certain to slow the traffic on M-70 to a crawl.

The High Street campus conversion (target: early March 2020)

A 1.6-mile stretch of High Street running through the campus area is scheduled to be converted into 27 Panera Breads and a standalone, vaguely chain-ish eatery that will flip between a sub shop and a Mexican eatery every six months on a rotating basis.

Additional protected bike lanes (target: TBD)

A 0.8-mile stretch of Sixth Street running through Downtown is being converted into a two-way protected bike lane that funnels directly into oncoming traffic at each end, with no warning for riders or drivers. This is still somehow an improvement in regards to local bike safety.

West Third Avenue in Grandview to close (target: Dec. 19, 2019)

With work on the railroad bridge finally ending after more than three years (two years longer than the initial estimate), ODOT is closing this stretch of road again just because. Alive reached out for comment, and the agency said any complaints can be directed to IDGAF, though we can’t say that we're familiar with that particular branch of city government.

I-71 South into Columbus to close permanently at Ikea Way (target: October 2023)

This might seem like a hugely flawed plan and an unnavigable hindrance to the citizenry, but that’s only because you haven’t absorbed the elegant simplicity of ODOT’s proposed alternate route for commuters: exit I-71 at the closure and take eastbound Ikea Way to southbound Africa Road to westbound Main Street to southbound Cleveland Avenue to eastbound Hudson Street to northbound High Street to eastbound North Broadway to southbound Route 315 to Downtown. Here’s betting the lot of you start taking this route long before this so-called “artery” interstate actually closes.