The city of Bexley has been working on making Drexel Avenue safer and slower by adding bump-outs and medians, which are supposed to be finished by the end of October.
Mayor Ben Kessler explained that the bump-outs will be used to slow traffic while also making pedestrians more visible. The hope is for it to become safer for pedestrians to cross the street because it will create shorter crosswalks, he added. Another purpose of the construction is to slow drivers down, he said, with the end goal of making the speed limit 25 mph rather than 35 mph.
Kessler said that the timeline for the construction includes putting in landscaping and tree plantings in early November, and the final asphalt will go down this spring.
He explained public meetings began in early 2022 with multiple plans they showed Drexel Avenue residents. Kessler added many of the residents agreed with slowing the speed limit on the street, and he worked closely with them throughout the process.
Kessler said the street is a state route that is under state law, so the planning process had more guidelines and regulations. Kessler added that Bexley has to prove that people will drive slower so they can officially change the speed limit to 25 mph.
Kessler shared that there has been controversy over the construction, but he hopes that people will realize the improvements and benefits when the construction is over.
“The goal is for Drexel to be like Bryden and Bexley Park, both of which frequently have cars and bikes at the same time,” Kessler said.
Cherbourg Bakery owner Geri Peacock said although it has had a slight impact on her business, she believes the changes will be beneficial. She said she hopes the changes will increase the walking and cycling community because the street will be safer.
“I think long term, it’s a well-thought-out plan and it’s nice to slow people down,” she added.
Junior and Drexel Avenue resident Jack McMaster said the construction is understandable but has become frustrating over time.
“Sometimes I can’t park in my driveway and I have to park far down the road, and it can be very inconvenient,” he said.
McMaster also said he has lower visibility when backing out of his driveway because of the construction vehicles.
“If there are a lot of trucks parked, it’s harder to see if cars are coming and if I am able to back out or not,” he explained.
Drexel resident Julie Seck said she doesn’t think people will stop speeding regardless of whether the speed limit is 25 or 35 mph. She added that the portion of Drexel between Elm Avenue and Dale Avenue was under construction for three weeks and they had minimal access to their driveway and sidewalks during this time.
“There were multiple times we had to walk through our neighbor’s yard to walk our dog daily,” Seck said.
Seck explained the construction has had an ongoing impact on her family, and she disagrees with the plan’s execution.
“The entire process has been frustrating, and it got to the point where the jackhammering was nonstop and extremely annoying,” Seck said.
Kessler said it is hard to provide accurate feedback without the final product. He hopes the finished results will provide increased safety. The medians will be landscaped and have uplightings in the trees.
Peacock said that she hopes the changes will benefit the safety of all Bexley residents. She added that she hopes people will feel safer and will be able to use the changes that have been made.
“Ultimately, this will be a long term positive thing with a shorter term downside,” she said.