COLUMBIA — Months after a project to improve lighting on Forum Boulevard between Nifong and Crestwood Lane was put on hold, the project is still stuck, and nearly half that section of road, as well as a section of Chapel Hill Road, remains unlit.
The Missourian spoke with Laura Nauser, Fifth Ward Councilwoman, to find out when and how the lighting project will be completed.
Q How would this section of Forum Boulevard benefit from street lighting?
A “I didn’t really notice the lighting situation until it was brought up, but in some places in the ward the only light is spillover from businesses. The Fifth Ward is devoid of lights, and we’re starting to have more development in the area.”
Q Why was this project to add streetlights put on hold?
A Nauser said it was she and Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade who initially raised objections toward the end of last year about the kind of light poles that would be used. “Mr. Wade and I wanted to look at our lighting policy to see if we could have more choices of lighting fixtures. He has the new extension of Chapel Hill; I have the section of Forum Boulevard.” She also added that streetlights had been installed between Nifong and Green Meadows Road.
Q What type of fixtures and lights are you suggesting for this area?
A “We know the cost will be greater, but we want something that will add some character to the structure of our roadway. They still will be cut-off fixtures (a focused type of lighting), but it would be more decorative.” Nauser said the cost of one of the decorative poles is about $2,200, about $1,000 more than the poles first selected. She said the cost to light the unlit section of Forum with decorative poles would be about $33,000.
Q What needs to happen for this issue to be resolved?
A “We’re going to have a work session on March 31 where we need to reach a consensus.” The new lighting policy would then be brought up for a majority vote at an April City Council meeting. She added the policy had not been brought up at previous work sessions because of time issues. “We just had other things that have popped up.”
Q Are you confident you can come to a consensus?
A “I don’t know. People just have different opinions on it.” She said some are concerned with the budgetary constraints, while others think adding decorative poles would show favoritism. “I think this would have a community benefit, but if we can’t come to some kind of consensus, then we’ll just move forward with what’s in place.” She went on to say: “This has been going on long enough. It’s taken us seven months to come up with a lighting policy. We have problems.”
Sgt. Tim Moriarity said “the speed is significant enough (in that area), and the turn is significant enough that any lighting there would be helpful, especially with the continued growth of businesses and residences in the area.”