Parsons Avenue Street Rehabilitation
The city of Columbus sought the complete reconstruction of an 820-foot stretch of Parsons Avenue to connect to the Ohio Department of Transportation’s plan to improve I-70 and I-71 through Columbus. This project extended from Franklin Avenue to Broad Street in the Olde Towne East neighborhood. One of the city’s largest and oldest neighborhoods, Olde Towne East has more than 1,000 homes that date back to the 1830s representing roughly 50 architectural styles.
The city hired Woolpert to provide preliminary engineering and detailed design services for the Parsons Avenue streetscape reconstruction. Project goals included widening sidewalks, adding bicycle facilities, maintaining on-street parking and adding a westbound left-turn lane from Broad Street to Cassady.
This project encountered time constraints for design completion so that construction could begin before ODOT’s Project 3, requiring it to tie into the existing environment while working with ODOT’s plans. Additionally, the design needed to accommodate a separate city project to reroute utilities under Cassady Avenue and incorporate other needs expressed by the community.
The project required the development of a maintenance-of-traffic scheme to reconstruct the entire roadway, from building face to building face, while maintaining vehicular traffic and a safe pedestrian pathway for neighborhood business patrons and residents.
Woolpert’s design increased sidewalk areas, provided on-street parking and added bike facilities to the historic urban corridor while improving corridor access via a westbound turn lane from Broad Street onto Cassady Avenue. The project included public involvement, renderings and project graphics, water line replacement, street lighting, mast arm traffic signals, detailed maintenance of traffic plans, street trees and stormwater treatment best management practices through green infrastructure.
The project piloted multiple innovative elements:
- Flexi-Pave permeable tree surroundings in lieu of traditional tree grates
- Silva-Cells under sidewalks to create better growth environments for street tree roots
- Permeable clay pavers in parking bays to collect stormwater and provide a stone treatment layer under the pavers
- LED street lighting
- Final design element collaboration with a city-contracted artist who designs public areas
For the utility coordination element, Woolpert provided quality level A subsurface utility engineering services at six locations and coordinated standard Level B/C efforts at another 11 test holes. Woolpert coordinated the installation of new communication duct banks, gas mains, and electric transmission duct bank, service and transformers. New public utilities included a 12-inch water main, storm sewers, street lighting conduits and poles, traffic signals, interconnected duct bank and DOT fiber replacement.
To maintain traffic during construction, Woolpert detoured northbound traffic through the project area and maintained southbound traffic. Temporary walkways and ramps maintained pedestrian access though the work zone and to local businesses.
Woolpert ensured, through coordination with the city and ODOT, that the design met both the city’s standards and tied in with ODOT’s projects in the area.
Woolpert’s frequent coordination with the utility providers and city enabled the team to design the city infrastructure in a manner that provided early routings for the private utilities. Continued review of the private utilities and coordination with them helped prevent costly redesigns later in the project. Woolpert received a consultant evaluation score of 96% on this project, which was featured in the ASHE Scanner magazine. Most notably, the project won the American Society of Highway Engineers Central Ohio Section Project of the Year Award as well as the ASHE Great Lakes Region Project of the Year Award.
Woolpert’s collaboration between the city and its stakeholders led to a form and function that benefits the region. By modifying traffic patterns to accommodate a westbound left turn from Broad Street onto Parsons Avenue, the design team promoted better corridor access both now and upon completion of ODOT’s Project 3. The fully reconstructed roadway provides a smooth ride with upgraded pedestrian crossings and curb bump-outs to reduce pedestrian street crossing distances. The design also included a southbound bike lane to the historic urban corridor that complements a future northbound bike lane in ODOT’s Project 3. The project design replaced and widened sidewalks for improved pedestrian accessibility and, in some areas, future on-street dining.
“This project enhances the mobility, safety and quality of life for our residents and visitors,” said Jennifer Gallagher, director of the Department of Public Service for Columbus. “It used an innovative and thoughtful approach that retained the uniqueness of the neighborhood, while expanding the vitality of a critical avenue for continued prosperity of its residents and businesses.”
City of Columbus
- Civil engineering
- Traffic engineering
- Subsurface utility engineering
Innovative Design Elements for Columbus, OH, Streetscape Project