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Crash Map: Accident hotspot near Grandview

614now Staff

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Most of us spend so much time in the car that it’s easy to forget that driving is a complicated, potentially dangerous activity, especially in a city where drivers have been ranked as the seventh worst in the nation. Toss a tricky intersection into the equation, and it’s fertile ground for, you guessed it, an accident.

In this series, we investigate some of Columbus’ most problematic intersections—the crossroads where most crashes happen. First up: 5th Avenue/Olentangy River Road near Grandview.

5th Avenue/Olentangy River Road is a really busy intersection—several lanes of traffic, two gas station entrances, crosswalks and bike trails all culminating in one place. It even landed a spot on the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s list of the 100 regional high crash intersections between 2015-2017. The high-crash location lists are intended to serve as a starting point for the identification and resolution of traffic safety issues in the region.

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While this intersection did not prove deadly from 2015-2017, it certainly was the scene of many insurance premium spikes. In total, there were 82 crashes at Olentangy River Rd. and W 5th Ave. in that three-year span, listed in the chart below.

201526
201627
201729
Total Crashes82
Fatal Crashes0
Serious Injury Crashes1
Minor Injury Crashes8
Possible Injury Crashes9

Why are there so many accidents?

According to Debbie Briner, Public Relations Specialist with the Department of Public Service per the Columbus Division of Traffic Management, the majority of the crashes that happened at this intersection are “access management” related, due to the high number of driveways located in close proximity to the intersection.

What’s being done

According to the City of Columbus website, Central Ohio is expected to grow by up to 1 million people by 2050. Insight2050 is a scenario analysis designed to identify ways to accommodate growth while minimizing impacts to the region’s quality of life. One of the most challenging areas within the study is the Northwest Corridor, which includes the 5th Ave/Olentangy River Road intersection. This area of Columbus is of particular interest because:

  • The area has high potential for job growth
  • Future congestion in the area could limit opportunities without investment in mobility
  • The area represents some of the most complex challenge for engineering and design
  • The area links multiple major institutions and employers

The 5th Ave/Olentangy River Road intersection falls within the limits of the Northwest Corridor Mobility Study, a project looking at the area from Bethel Road to West Broad Street. It includes Olentangy River Road and the surrounding transportation network, according to Briner. The City of Columbus and project leadership including COTA, MORPC, and OSU are getting the study underway.

An overall analysis of the corridor will look at all aspects of mobility along the corridor, including safety.

Bevan Schneck, Senior Public Affairs Coordinator at MORPC, says the Northwest Corridor Mobility Study is expected to be completed in 12-18 months.

To learn more about the Northwest Corridor Mobility Study, click here.

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The More You Know: Nonprofit cautions about COVID-19 related scams

614now Staff

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In the day and age of digital connectivity, scams are becoming more and more an issue. Not only are they simply becoming more prevalent, they are becoming more difficult to recognize and track down. From email phishes to telemarketer robocalls, it seems they are coming in every direction.

And, unfortunately, not even social distancing can stop the scams from flowing in. However, The Senior Source, a nonprofit in Dallas, Texas, has released some helpful tips and information to being more aware of these scams, the tactics they might use, and even red flags to help identify the early signs of a scam.

Phone/In-Person Scams

Robocalls, provider scams, testing scams, and treatment scams are all potential forms the Senior Source warns folks to know about. Robocalls are when a company uses a machine to make calls, pose as the IRS or Medicare, and attempt to profit off fears of COVID-19. If you receive one of these calls and are unsure if it was truly the IRS or not, call the IRS customer service line at 1-800-829-1040,

Provider scams, writes Senior Source, are phone calls from fake doctors claiming to have provided medical assistance to a loved one or someone you know and then demand payment. One of the red flags to be aware of during these potential scams is urgency; such as trying to get you to make a payment right now.

Testing scams and treatment scams are similar, but with subtle differences. Testing scams have been reported to be people in lab coats going door-to-door, claiming to be a health care professional, and selling fake COVID-19 tests. Treatment scams falls in the same category, however, they are selling fake COVID-19-related treatments door-to-door. It's worth noting that the only current known treatment for COVID-19 is professional medical assistance from a licensed doctor working in a hospital. Additionally, if you are concerned about symptoms you might be showing, visit this site for more details and contact a medical professional.

Financial Scams

While most scams are considered financial scams, as the end goal is ultimately to take your money, Senior Source warns about four specifically during the outbreak: supply scams, charity scams, and romance scams.

Supply scams are people creating a fake website, company, or shop to sell high-demand items like hand sanitizer, toilet paper, and face masks. Once a purchase is made, the Senior Source warns these companies might just pocket the money and provide nothing in return. These supply scams can also be found through social media and email.

Charity scams are a little more self-explanatory. Rather than setting up a fake business to sell items, these fake charities and nonprofits designed to collect donations for COVID-19. But, just like the supply scams, these fake charities and nonprofits will pocket the donations. A red flag to be aware of here is the notion that "everyone is doing it." If you are interested in helping out a nonprofit or charity in Columbus, check out the Point App where you can find volunteer opportunities, or donate to the nonprofit of your choice.

The final of the three, romance scams, is when a fake social media account is created to earn the trust, affection, and eventual funds of an unsuspecting person.

Malware Scams

Phishing scams and app scams are two different ways a scammer might be able to download malware onto devices which can be used to download personal information. Senior Source says to check sources to ensure the company or app is a reliable business.

Phishing scams can come in the form of emails posing to be health care professionals providing downloadable links and content. Senior Source writes that these phishes have come in many different forms such as posing as the World Health Organization or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

App scams, notes Senior Source, have come in the form of apps that track the spread of COVID-19. Again, it's recommended to check sources before downloading from an unknown providers.

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A brief guide to the $1,200 Coronavirus stimulus check

Mitch Hooper

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As Ohio enters into a new month of social distance and only essential businesses operating, some financial relief from the Coronavirus Stimulus Package could be arriving as early as next week.

To better understand the ins-and-outs of this stimulus package, we've pooled together this helpful guide from national publications. Read below to see who qualifies for what in the package, how much to expect, when to expect it, and what steps you need to take to make sure you receive your money.

Do I qualify for payment?

Per the Los Angeles Times, there are many variables to who qualifies for payments. The amount of your payment will depend on your income reported in 2018. Individuals who earn less than $75,000 a year can expect a $1,200 check while individuals earning $99,000 or more would receive no check. Individuals who fall in between these two totals will have their payment prorated based on their income.

That math breaks down to $50 less for every $1,000 earned over $75,000. So a person earning $80,000 would get a check of $950; a person earning $90,000 would get a check of $450; and a person earning $98,000 would get a check of $50.

— Matt Stieb, How and When Can Americans Access the $1,200 Coronavirus Stimulus Checks? for New York Magazine

Additionally, married folks who earn a combined total of less than $150,000 can expect a $2,400 check with an additional $500 per child younger than 17-years-old. If a parent were to file under "head of household," they would be eligible for the $1,200 check plus the additional $500 per child younger than 17 if they earn less than $112,500 per year. This head of household check is prorated up to individual folks who earn more than $136,500. However, married folks who earn a combined total of more than $198,000 would not be eligible for a stimulus check.

To see what your payment might look like, use this handy calculator created by researcher Jasmine Mah and mathematician Maciej Kowalski, as reported by Business Insider.

Other people who do not qualify for the check include adult dependents, college students, elderly or disabled folks, and children age 17 and 18, reports The Wall Street Journal.

How do I receive this?

The first step, according to New York Magazine, is having a social security number. If you have this, you don't need to apply. The only thing you need to ensure is that the IRS has your bank account on file in order to send you the payment through direct deposit. If you filed your taxes and elected to use direct deposit, this should already be set up. It's important to note that if your payments are sent through mail, it could take up to five months.

Additionally, if you are receiving veteran benefits or Supplemental Security income, you might need to file to receive your payment, per The Wall Street Journal.

Will I have to pay this back?

To put it bluntly, no. Per Business Insider, the stimulus check will be tax free to Americans.

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COVID-19 puts Columbus Arts Festival on hold until next year

Mitch Hooper

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Citing the COVID-19 outbreak, the Greater Columbus Arts council board has voted to cancel the 2020 Columbus Arts Festival, formerly scheduled for June 12-14.

"As much as we desperately want to go on as planned, we recognize that we must put the health and safety of our patrons, artists, performers, vendors and sponsors first," said Tom Katzenmeyer, President & CEO of GCAC, in a press release. "As we’ve watched the COVID-19 pandemic unfold, with all the uncertainty it holds for the near future, we could not in good conscience hold a festival that would bring artists and visitors from 38 states and four countries, and more than 500,000 people within close proximity to each other on the downtown riverfront."

In past press conferences, Dr. Amy Acton, director of the Ohio Department of Health, has said that we could see the impacts of COVID-19 lasting into May with a gradual drop-off. Currently, Columbus has seen many events in May be canceled including Taco Fest and Six One Pour, both citing public health taking priority over the festivals.

This announcement comes as one of the first events in June to officially cancel due to the Coronavirus. Though it won't be taking place this year, Katzenmeyer remains hopeful for the future of Arts Fest.

"I will miss this energy. I will miss these people. I will miss being a part of this experience, and yes, I will miss fresh lemonade shake ups. But we made this decision to ensure that we all remain healthy and able to enjoy all these wonderful experiences at next year’s Arts Festival. And that is where I have my heart set."

In Central Ohio, June also plays host to the Memorial Tournament, the Pride Parade and Festival, and the Creekside Jazz and Blue Fest. 614Now will have more updates about upcoming events as they become available.

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