Columbus is creating a security plan for Mount Vernon Avenue

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Mount Vernon Avenue runs through the heart of the King-Lincoln-Bronzeville neighborhood. It houses small shops and pharmacies, houses and a barber shop.

It has also been home to speeders and the scene of many accidents, which sometimes makes it dangerous not only for motorists but also for pedestrians and cyclists as the neighborhood near downtown is becoming increasingly popular with developers and new residents.

The City of Columbus is planning to make the Mount Vernon Avenue corridor safer.

“In recent years, we’ve been concerned about crashes at some intersections and speeding in the corridor,” said Reynaldo Stargell, administrator of the city’s traffic management department.

“We felt the best way to proceed was to review everything, the Mount Vernon Corridor as a whole, what changes we can make and the safety of all modes of transport,” he said.

According to the city, there have been 192 accidents along the corridor since 2016, including 69 at the intersection of Mount Vernon and North Champion avenues.

The traffic lights at this intersection were removed on February 6, 2017 when new apartments were being built on the site of the old Poindexter Village public housing complex. It has been replaced by stop signs.

“Evolution is coming and traffic patterns are completely changing,” said Stargell.

Some local residents and motorists say the traffic lights should be reinstalled, including Antoinette Parks, who was driving west on Mount Vernon Avenue in 2020 when her car was hit by a vehicle heading north on North Champion.

“He hit me forward on the driver’s door.” Parks said. Your car was total.

“There are so many accidents there,” said Parks of the intersection.

Al Edmondson, whose barber shop is north of Mount Vernon on North 20th Street, said the town shouldn’t have removed the traffic lights.

“They travel 50-60 mph,” Edmondson, president of the Mount Vernon Avenue District Improvement Association, said of motorists driving down the corridor. “There was never a weekend without an accident.”

The speed limit along Mount Vernon Avenue is 25 mph.

“People definitely don’t go down the street,” said Parks.

Edward Bryant, a West Side resident who walked through Mount Vernon Plaza last week, said he saw speeders too. “You have the fools,” he said.

According to the latest traffic figures from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, 6,455 vehicles daily traveled along Mount Vernon Avenue near North Champion in 2015, and 4,233 vehicles passed through Mount Vernon near North 20th Street in 2019.

Traffic management placed a camera at the Mount Vernon / North Champion intersection in 2019 and found that two-thirds of the cars approaching Mount Vernon on North Champion did not stop, said Deb Briner, a city public service spokeswoman.

This resulted in the Mobility and Safety Action Plan in Bronzeville / Mount Vernon Avenue.

People can take a poll bronzevillemoves.com.

Questions are asked about how people move around Mount Vernon Avenue, from driving to the bus, to walking and scooter. It is also asked what makes Mount Vernon easy or difficult to travel and how safe they feel when they walk or bike there.

Henry Butcher, the owner of Creole cuisine on Mount Vernon Plaza and the father of Parks, said there were issues the city had to deal with.

“You see people speeding up,” said Butcher. “In fact, you see people running the stop signs.”

Stargell said fixes could include any number of things from signs to traffic calming devices to new zebra crossings and reconfiguration of intersections. The aim is to start engineering and planning by June.

“The fact is, this is a response to a lot of changes, not just vehicle traffic,” Stargell said. “More people are walking. There is more emphasis on serving people who are transiting. We are making sure that COTA (Central Ohio Transit Authority) is also in place.”

Edmondson said one idea that has been discussed is roundabouts at intersections that are popular in suburbs like Dublin and Hilliard. One possible location: Mount Vernon and Champion.

“That would help slow the traffic down a bit,” he said.

Edmondson said these issues have been around for years along Mount Vernon, but they are being addressed now as more new apartments come in and homes are renovated in the historically black neighborhood.

“It’s new residents that are triggering this,” he said.

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@ MarkFerenchik