The $4.3 million loan for connector road did not materialize in December. Citizens remain active in an effort to stop all hopes for the road

By Victoria Slater, ’12

This past December, a series of yard signs appeared on front lawns throughout UA. Each sign reads “Stop the Road A to Z,” a phrase that refers to the city’s suggestion of a connector road to be built between Ackerman and Zollinger Roads.

The idea­—which was proposed in September, according to the Columbus Dispatch­—and its implications on the growth of the UA community, have been met with both controversy and support.

According to UA City Council member Frank Ciotola, the proposal for the connector was made in order to pave a faster route from the heart of UA to State Route 315 and The Ohio State University. The road would also serve as an easier route from the neighborhood of Shady Hills to UA’s center of commerce—Kingsdale Shopping Center.

“Zollinger Road was originally designed to extend out toward Ackerman, and this idea has been brought up for years,” Ciotola said. “Connecting the two roads would help business, increase activity in the town and offer citizens a better access to Route 315, Ohio State and Kingsdale.”

UA resident Ivo Podobnikar, a member of the Stop the Road A to Z coalition, sees things differently. He and other members of the movement saw the proposed road as a destruction of property values and the integrity of their neighborhood.

“We are against the road because of increased traffic, safety concerns, crime, destruction of neighborhoods and green space, cost and property values,” he said.

Podobnikar added that members of the coalition are frustrated with the idea that the connector road is needed in order for UA businesses, especially Kingsdale, to prosper. They are also skeptical that this would bring about lower taxes as a result.

“We disagree with the assertions that the connector is a requirement for Kingsdale to be successful [and] that the connector will prevent tax increases or lower our taxes,” he said. “We don’t believe that a road will magically do all of the previous with limited negative impacts or costs.”

Although plans for the connector road were in place if a $4.3 million loan came through from the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, according to Ciotola, it seems the Stop the Road coalition’s rigorous campaigning has yielded success. A December 3, 2010 article written in the Columbus Dispatch by Dean Narciso titled “It’s a dead end for proposed UA connector” reported that MORPC rejected the city’s request for a loan.

In his article, Narciso quotes Robert Lawler, who is the transportation director for MORPC. Lawler noted that there were a variety of reasons why the loan was rejected.

“[The] proposed project left too many unanswered questions,” he said. “The city failed to fully explain why the project was needed or to supply detailed traffic and environmental impact studies.”

While members of the Stop the Road movement may be celebrating their triumph, Podobnikar is aware that a proposal for the connector road may resurface in the next few years.

“We were very pleased with the outcome of the MORPC screening process, but based on what we know about the MORPC process, this funding request will not be officially dead until the final project awards in February,” he said. “We, in no way, feel that the decision made [in December] or even if it is confirmed in February means that the city can no longer build the road or will not continue to pursue a connector.”

Although he and other UA officials in charge of the connector road plan have witnessed their idea fall short, Ciotola remains satisfied that UA community residents have the ability to voice their opinions.

“I think that the Stop the Road coalition is great,” Ciotola said. “We live in a democracy which allows constituents the chance to see that their elected officials are doing the best for their city. I’m glad that residents are willing to show officials what they want to happen.” •