New Traffic Laws in Downtown Powell

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New Traffic Laws in Downtown Powell

Abby Turner, Writer

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Downtown Powell is a hubbub of community life with its many restaurants and recreational activities to engage citizens of all ages. As the popularity of downtown Powell continues to grow, so does the traffic. In order to keep pedestrians safe and traffic flowing, the City of Powell has implemented the “Keep Powell Moving” initiative, changing the ways people commute through Powell.

Powell City Council voted to extend the previous left turn ban at the intersection of Olentangy and Liberty Road downtown. Now, drivers won’t be able to turn left from 7a.m.-7p.m. daily in order to reduce traffic backups downtown. 

“In June, the City’s Operations Committee held a public forum to discuss whether or not to extend the time frame. It was evident through the feedback received at the public forum from residents and businesses that the community wanted the time frame extended,” Megan Canavan, spokeswoman for city manager Steve Lutz, said. 

The left turn ban is currently from 4p.m.- 7p.m. only on weekdays, and it’s sometimes broken by drivers. By mid-September, the updated time restrictions will go into effect. The Powell Police will attempt to regulate the intersection, but it isn’t always possible. 

“The problem is we only have three officers on duty at one time, and they can’t be everywhere. We’ll do enforcement blitzes on the intersection. But the tough thing is if there’s an emergency that comes up, then we’re sending most of our police force to attend to that,” Councilmen Brian Lorenz said. 

Along with the “Keep Powell Moving” initiative, a traffic light will be added at the intersection of Seldom Seen and Liberty Road improve traffic. Although a roundabout was discussed, it doesn’t fit the financial and structural needs of this intersection.

“The City of Powell and Delaware County Engineer’s Office conducted a traffic study and analysis of the intersection. They found a traffic signal would be more appropriate at the intersection over a roundabout,” Canavan said. Also, a traffic signal allows the city to divide the cost with other partners, decreasing the amount of citizens’ tax dollars used on the project.

“For this particular project, the city was given a grant to match half of the project. Also, they’re partnering with Delaware County because Delaware County owns part of the intersection as well. So you’re taking the whole price of the project, and now you’re only going to contribute one quarter,” Lorenz said.

While the new updates have been announced to the public, some of the citizens have taken to the Powell Bubble, a community Facebook page, to discuss their opinions. Although their opinions are valued and can be taken into account, it isn’t on an official record of a city hall meeting.

“It’s a good place to correspond with people, but it doesn’t make it on an official record. Those people have never talked to me at all, they’ve never wanted to engage on this project at all. It’s their opinion as taxpayers, but it’s a two-way street,” Lorenz said, “But as a council person, generally speaking, it’s a great forum to get feedback. If we fail to utilize that, then shame on us, we should be paying attention to that.” 

New additions added to Powell may reroute and appear to disrupt commuters, but it is all to improve traffic flow throughout the city. 

“People don’t want to listen a lot of times, but you’ve got to look under the layers to get the full picture,” Lorenz said.

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