Numerous recent and on-going initiatives have important implications for corridor development and mobility improvements. Success of the LinkUS initiative depends on a close alignment of policies, strategies and investments related to transportation infrastructure, land use, housing, economic development, and sustainability.
This 2014 effort, led by MORPC in partnership with ULI, Columbus, COTA and others, considered alternative regional growth patterns in light of anticipated population growth trends. The focused growth alternative was the consensus choice with its potential to accommodate growth in a cost-effective, efficient, and sustainable manner.
Completed in 2017, this two-year COTA effort considered 26 potential transit corridors. A first level evaluation winnowed the list to 14 corridors, with a variety of criteria considered—organized around the themes of making better connections, investing in underserved communities, building on success, and sustainability. The study identified corridors most likely to be successful in the near term and corresponding transit modes.
Insight2050 Corridor Concepts
This study, which concluded in 2019, was undertaken by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission in cooperation with ULI, Columbus, COTA and other partners. The effort considered infill development and the use of advanced rapid transit for five corridors that served as models for the region. The study recommends mixed-use zoning districts to coincide with such corridors. Columbus is working with partners on appropriate next steps regarding a potential transit system. The study recommends higher-density, mixed use development along corridors, particularly in proximity to stop locations.
Transportation and Mobility
COTA Short Range / Long Range Transit Plans
COTA is currently undertaking updates to both its Short and Long Range Transit Plans. The STRP includes improvements to transit service, capital investments and COTA’s portion of the regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The plan also provides a plan for current and future use of local, state and federal funds.
Connect Columbus / Multimodal Thoroughfare Plan
This is a multi-year transportation planning effort aimed at updating the City’s policies, procedures and roadway design guidelines with the goal of creating a sustainable, 21st Century multimodal transportation system. In 2019, the first phase of deliverables was advanced, including a draft Transportation Policy Framework and the updated Multimodal Thoroughfare Plan (MMTP). The MMTP provides an initial expectation of needed rights-of-way to accommodate future multimodal transportation improvements throughout the City’s street network, including potential high capacity transit corridors.
2020-2050 Metropolitan Transportation Plan
Prepared by MORPC, the Metropolitan Transportation Plan, the (MTP) is a long-range planning document that identifies transportation deficiencies, policies, strategies, and projects over the next two decades. The MTP makes the greater Columbus region eligible to receive a large amount of federal transportation funding to improve, maintain, and operate highways, public transit, bikeways, sidewalks, and related facilities.
Mobility Innovation Tests
This partnership between Columbus and COTA involves a series of low-cost, temporary changes to streets, demonstrating how transit service can be improved. An immediate focus is the reallocation of street right-of-way to create dedicated transit lanes. The first test was implemented on 3rd Street in downtown and involved creating a shared bus/bike/scooter lane.
The City of Columbus has launched the Vision Zero Columbus initiative, part of a global initiative to eliminate all roadway deaths and severe injuries, while ensuring safe, equitable mobility for all. The program, in its initial stages, is analyzing data and engaging the public to understand the locations, severity, and types of crashes throughout the city.
JET Task Force – Loop Road Supplement
This 2015 study built on the broader Jet Task Force effort to enhance and leverage John Glenn International Airport as an economic and transportation hub. It considered optional rail modes and routes to connect downtown and the airport. A preferred alternative was selected (light rail) with a projected cost range of $450 to $600 million. A line extension was also considered to serve areas beyond the airport, such as Easton and the SR 161/Hamilton Road area. The study was managed by Columbus in partnership with CRAA, COTA, and MORPC.
Housing and Development
Columbus Zoning Code Evaluation
Zoning is a powerful tool that helps ensure that development is consistent with local standards and expectations, facilitates appropriate growth, and maintains health and safety for Columbus residents. The City is undertaking an evaluation of its zoning code to better align it with growth priorities, such as affordable housing, job centers, and encouraging transit-supportive, mixed-use corridors.
Columbus Citywide Planning Policies
Columbus Citywide Planning Policies (C2P2) serve as a framework for neighborhood planning and development review. Based on best practices and policies developed by the City of Columbus over 20+ years of area and neighborhood planning. It includes guiding principles, design guidelines, land use policies, and land use plans for individual areas. Regular updates are planned to ensure currency.
Regional Housing Strategy
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) is working with partners to develop a housing plan for the region. A consultant team led by Enterprise Community Partners is managing the plan process, which is slated for completion by fall 2020. The plan will consider regional housing needs through 2050, with specific attention to the needs of lower income residents, and it will recommend strategies to encourage development of affordable units.
Sustainability and Innovation
Recognizing the role a healthy environment plays in the City of Columbus continuing to be America’s Opportunity City, the City has established the Sustainable Columbus initiative. The four pillars of the Sustainable Columbus initiative are: GreenSpot (Inform and Engage), Climate & Energy, Natural Resource Protection and Conservation, and Waste Reduction. Mayor Andrew Ginther recently announced an ambitious community-wide goal for Columbus to become carbon neutral by 2050. To accomplish this goal, significant action is needed in the buildings, energy, and transportation sectors by 2030 to lay the framework for these reductions. This framework is scheduled to be completed by fall 2020.
Sustainable2050 is a MORPC-led program that supports member communities’ sustainability efforts through direct technical assistance, collaboration, and recognition. The 2017-2020 Regional Sustainability Agenda is the guiding document for MORPC’s sustainability-focused programming and committees, and provides the framework for members and regional partners to work toward common goals.
The City of Columbus won the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) $50 million Smart City Challenge in June of 2016 after competing against 77 cities nationwide to implement a holistic vision for how technology can help all residents to move more easily and to access opportunity. Columbus was also awarded a $10 million grant from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. Foundation to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the de-carbonization of the electric supply and transportation sectors.