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Dear I-670 drivers, your lives may never be the same

614now Staff

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Notice anything different on your I-670 and/or I-270 commute lately? Could be the nine 600-square-foot, 110,000-pound digital signs towering over the freeway.

These signs display information about the first ever Ohio SmartLane.

The I-670 “SmartLane” is the left shoulder that will be open when traffic slows to a crawl. It begins just east of I-71 in downtown Columbus and extends to I-270 on the East Side.

The SmartLane will be closed most of the time, indicated by a red X. But when traffic dips below 50 mph, The Dispatch reports traffic monitors will send signals to the overhead signs to open the SmartLane. When open, the speed limit is 45 mph.

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“It might sound counter-intuitive, but studies have shown traveling at slower speeds actually keeps traffic moving better because it avoids the ‘stop and go’ conditions which can cause more accidents,” said ODOT Director Jerry Wray. “Ultimately, we believe the combination of the extra travel lane and the reduced speed limits will allow for a more reliable commute for travelers along that route.”

ODOT has installed more than 30 traffic cameras to monitor the lane for any obstructions, reports The Dispatch. The right shoulder of I-670 will be free for disabled vehicles to use.

The $61 million project is officially complete. Visit ODOT.com for more information on the project and the new traffic patterns.

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Biz + Dev

Proposed Brewery District development could change skyline

614now Staff

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The Brewery district could be the site of a massive new construction project according to a report from ABC6.

During a meeting of The Brewery District Commission this week, North Carolina builder Zimmer Development Company and architectural firm NBBJ proposed a 30-story building complex to be developed on a 17-acre plot of land on West Whittier Street. The land is situated near Scioto Audubon Metro Park on the Whittier Peninsula.

According to the plan outlined by the developers, construction of the project would be broken up into three phases to be completed over 10-15 years. When complete, the complex would include over 370 apartments, 79-thousand square feet of office space, retail and restaurant space, outdoor patios, and a nearly 600-car garage.

Aside from the construction process itself, the proposed project will need to overcome a few hurdles in order to move forward. The proposed site of the building is currently owned by the company CSX, and also happens to reside on a flood plain.

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Crime

2 recent attempted abduction reports raise human trafficking concerns

614now Staff

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Two recent police reports have local families questioning whether they had a brush with human traffickers.

The first incident involved 18-year-old Kennedy Stokes, who said she and her cousin were approached by two men at a Walmart on November 21, reports 10TV. Stokes said the men tried talking to them several times and felt they were following them.

The next day, Strokes was experiencing car problems on her way home. She made it to the entrance of her apartment complex and got out to check under the hood. That's when a man approached and began grabbing at her.

Stokes noted he was wearing gloves and appeared to have a box cutter in his hand, reports 10TV. She was able to escape his grasp and suffered scratches on her chest.

Stokes believes it was one of the men from Walmart.

The second incident happened 14 miles away at a UDF on Indianola on the same day Stokes said she was attacked, reports 10TV.

A mother and her 12-year-old son were filling up at the gas station. She then went inside to pay, leaving her son in the locked vehicle.

When she returned, she said her son was visibly shaken up. He told her a man was yanking on the door handle, trying to get inside the vehicle. According to 10TV, the man didn't say anything, he only looked inside at the boy.

A security camera captured the incident, and police are currently reviewing the footage.

Both incidents have those involved wondering if they narrowly escaped a case of human trafficking. 10TV reports police are investigating both reports, including identification of suspects and motives.

For more on human trafficking, visit humantrafficking.ohio.gov.

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News

Downtown Parking is changing again. Take survey to sound off

614now Staff

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Sick and tired of the parking situation Downtown, or perfectly happy with things just the way they are? Either way, now's your chance to let your opinion be heard.

According to a report from the Columbus Dispatch, Columbus parking officials are planning changes for Downtown parking meters. In February, all current Downtown meters will be changed to either "30-minutes," "three-hours", or "unlimited time, 50-cents-an-hour."

The unlimited meters would be enforced from 8 AM to 6 PM, Mondays through Saturdays. The 30-minute and three-hour meters be in effect from 8 AM through 10 PM, Mondays through Saturdays.

It was also announced that the city plans to eliminate 150 to 200 meters in the summer of 2020. In their place, people will now be expected to use the ParkColumbus smartphone app, which has already been implemented in areas like the Short North and Arena District. Current free parking areas Downtown will remain free.

The city plans to evaluate how the new system is working six months after the changes go into effect. The city has also provided an online survey to help gauge what people would like to see in the future of Downtown parking.

Visit www.parkcolumbus.com to take the survey, and you could be one of 10 participants who will win $50 Parking Smart Gift Cards that can be used at any city of Columbus parking meter.

Surveys must be completed by Friday, December 6. Winners will be notified by email.

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