I-70/I-71 Innerbelt Design Enhancement

I-70/I-71 Innerbelt Design Enhancement Columbus, Ohio

Services Provided

Transportation Enhancement Design
Urban Design
Public Engagement
Construction Documentation

People Involved

Chris Hermann
Tim Schmalenberger
Brian Kinzelman
Jeff Bryan
Kristen Lucas
Tim Rosenthal
Aron Fraizer


2014 Ohio Chapter ASLA Merit Award - Design Not Constructed for I-70/I-71 Phase 4
2014 Columbus Landmarks Foundation James B. Recchie Design Award Finalist

Public input leads to unique cultural opportunities while mending damage to urban neighborhoods caused by the interstate highway system.

The I‐70/I‐71 Innerbelt Corridor through downtown Columbus, Ohio is one of the busiest and most vital sections of highway in the region. To improve safety and mitigate the effects of the 1960’s highway trench on the downtown fabric and the surrounding neighborhoods, a substantial redesign of the freeway was needed.

MKSK’s engagement on the I-70/I-71 Innerbelt Project has spanned the arc of the project, beginning in 2002 and including the initial extensive Public Process which included hundreds of public meetings focusing on the entire corridor vision, through evaluation of the potential alternatives, and narrowing to the preferred plan.


Following the initial South innerbelt study, the Ohio Department of Transportation commissioned this study to guide the $1.6 Billion reconstruction of the I-70/71 corridor. Urban design goals include reconnecting historic neighborhoods and business districts, improving aesthetic conditions, and integrating pedestrian and bicycle friendly transportation improvements.

The project also provides opportunities to create signature gateways into Downtown Columbus from all directions and to improve connectivity and economic development opportunities for historic neighborhoods. It considers the highway mainline “trench”, the new and improved city streets paralleling the highway, and more than 12 rebuilt bridge crossings.


Each bridge crossing was individually considered and assessed during the redesign process. The vision for the plan includes gateways, plazas, and signature bridges that would better connect downtown with surrounding neighborhoods and creates an opportunity to cap sections of the freeway for future greenspace and private development.

The first phase of implementation of the I-70/71 Innerbelt Enhancement includes the Spring Street Bridge, Long Street Bridge and Cultural Wall, and urban avenues on either side of the freeway. Additional phases are currently underway and in various stages of design and construction. MKSK’s engagement continues on the urban design advising and landscape architectural documentation for the streetscapes and above deck spaces along the bridges as part of Phases 2, 3, 4 and 6.