Sullivant Ave. plan ill-timed, some say [Dispatch]

The timing of a proposal to reduce the number of lanes on Sullivant Avenue has perplexed some Hilltop neighborhood leaders.
Traffic in each direction would be reduced from two lanes to one on Sullivant between Hague Avenue on the Hilltop and Yale Avenue in Franklinton. The 2.3-mile section would also get a new center turn lane and “sharrows,” symbols that tell drivers that bicycle riders are encouraged to use the same lane.
“Why are we doing this now, before we see the impact of the casino?” said Chuck Patterson, who leads the Greater Hilltop Area Commission. “I do think it would be wise to wait and see.”The Hollywood Casino Columbus is to open Oct. 8 on W. Broad Street about 2.5 miles from the intersection of Sullivant and Hague avenues. Columbus wants to start the Sullivant work next spring or summer.
City officials have presented the draft plan to the Greater Hilltop and Franklinton area commissions. They’ll be discussing it at a 6:30 p.m. meeting Tuesday at the Columbus Metropolitan Library branch at 511 S. Hague Ave. as part of an open house on making Sullivant more attractive and pedestrian-friendly.
The city wants to increase safety along Sullivant by slowing traffic, said Rick Tilton, spokesman for the public service department.
The intersection of Sullivant and Wayne avenues had the fourth-worst rate of crashes between cars and bicyclists and pedestrians in Columbus from 2006 through 2010, with 20 crashes, according to the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.
Studies show that Sullivant would be able to handle the traffic with the lane changes, Tilton said.
Patterson suggested that the city take more time to determine how much traffic the casino generates through the Hilltop.
Nancy Rhynard, another Hilltop commission member, said Penn National Gaming expects up to 10,000 visitors a day, taking a variety of routes to and from the casino. The city has already reduced the number of lanes on W. Broad Street, which runs parallel to Sullivant, for a bike lane. Broad has just one eastbound lane between Hague and Clarendon avenues.
Tilton said the proposal would also ban parking along the north side of Sullivant between Hague and Yale. That stretch is a mix of homes and businesses, including bars, used-car lots and convenience stores.
Mohammed Nasir, who owns Food Mart I on Sullivant, said he needs parking for customers in front of his store. “Leave the parking, please,” he said.
Columbus wants to create 100 miles of bikeways by the end of this year. Some bicycling advocates think the city is compromising too much when adding sharrows instead of designated bike lanes.
Smartly designed bike lanes increase ridership, said Jessica Mathews, a coordinator of Consider Biking, a bicycling advocacy group.