Feb 29, 2024 - News

Columbus' "next step for downtown's comeback"

The Capital Line bike and pedestrian path
Data: Columbus Downtown Development Corporation. Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

A massive "urban pathway" in downtown Columbus will better connect pedestrians and bicyclists to a host of local landmarks, city officials announced yesterday.

Why it matters: The $100 million "Capital Line" project furthers a multitude of city goals, from boosting local tourism to enticing new residents and businesses to move downtown.

  • Officials also hope it will improve pedestrian safety, move away from car-focused travel and grow the tree canopy.

The big picture: Construction of the two-mile loop surrounding the Scioto Mile and Capitol Square will start in 2025 and be completed in stages over the coming years.

  • Typical of Columbus, the large project is a public-private partnership between the city, the private nonprofit Columbus Downtown Development Corporation and prominent developer Jeff Edwards.

Follow the money: Funding for the project will come from public, private and philanthropic resources.

  • It's unclear yet what the cost will be for taxpayers.
  • The Dispatch reports $10 million may come from the state legislature, using pandemic relief funds.

Between the lines: The Capital Line will be more than just a "glorified sidewalk," Edwards said at a project announcement at the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

  • The route will feature dedicated bike lanes, wider sidewalks, new landscaping and public art throughout, with extra space available by thinning the roadway.
rendering of a pedestrian walkway
A stretch of Gay Street that would be redesigned as part of the project. Rendering: Courtesy of the Columbus Downtown Development Corporation

Flashback: Edwards, the developer behind several ambitious downtown projects, previously told us a more vibrant Columbus needs to better link the downtown corridors and abandon its tradition of car-centric city planning.

What they're saying: This project carries out that vision as the "next step for downtown's comeback," Mayor Andrew Ginther said Wednesday.

  • "Downtown is everybody's neighborhood … whether you're on four wheels, or two wheels, or two feet."
  • The city is "putting our motorists on notice that the world does not revolve around them," he added.
  • The two said they took inspiration from other pathways in Atlanta and Indianapolis.

Indy-based editor Lindsey's thought bubble: Indy's Cultural Trail runs through what are now some of the city's most popular neighborhoods and has been hugely successful in attracting businesses and residents.

  • Sometimes a glorified sidewalk (because, let's be honest, that's what it is) is just what a city needs.
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