This Week New Albany Guest Column: Traffic Flow to be Aided by Planning, Technology, Partnerships

Joseph F. Stefanov, City Manager

Planning has been a New Albany staple since the creation of our first Strategic Plan in 1998. This document, and updates since, have helped guide land use; set expectations for aesthetics, architecture and site planning; and led to high quality development of all types. It has been the foundation for the creation of the New Albany International Business Park, the largest master planned commercial office park in Ohio, while simultaneously controlling density (at 0.37 homes per acre, the lowest residential density by far of comparable central Ohio cities).

The last strategic plan update, which occurred in 2014, integrated possible future road/transportation grids and pedestrian and cycling strategies that continue to be impactful today. Since then, our core has continued to grow with the opening of the Heit Center and many new retail and restaurant establishments that our residents have desired. Because change can happen quickly here, we will be updating the plan again later this year, with input from the community and a continued emphasis on future efforts to move vehicular, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic throughout New Albany.

New Albany was also one of the first communities to invest in a municipal fiber-optic network, thanks in large part to corporate partner AEP’s decision to locate its mission critical facility in New Albany. This network has helped facilitate billions of dollars in private investment in our business park which, in turn, has created more than $70 million in revenues for the New Albany – Plain Local Schools to date. This increase in businesses also increases municipal income tax revenue, of huge importance to the city because more than 80% of the revenues that support city services come from New Albany’s businesses and their employees.

Now, this same fiber-optic network will be utilized to connect and synchronize all 24 of New Albany’s traffic signals and traffic signals in areas adjacent to New Albany, helping to improve travel and create a more environmentally friendly setting with less vehicular idling. Work is scheduled to begin later this spring and should be completed by mid-2020, thanks to a Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) grant that covers 80% of New Albany’s estimated $1.166 million construction costs. Columbus is also a partner in this regional project, so signals just outside of New Albany that impact vehicular movement within our corporate boundaries can eventually be synched with our signals to improve traffic regionally.

There is no doubt that the temporary closure of Dublin-Granville Road has impacted traffic flow and we greatly appreciate the community’s patience during the construction. This closure was necessary so Dublin-Granville Road could be completely rebuilt with student safety in mind. It is now in the midst of a $6 million makeover, including the addition of crosswalks, dedicated walking trails and a protected bike lane. We are also narrowing lane widths to reduce speeds and transform the roadway from a wide state route to a much safer local street for students, pedestrians, cyclists and future Rose Run Park users alike.

New Albany will continue its proactive planning efforts, utilizing technology and building partnerships to enhance the quality of life and maintain the small town feel so many love.