COLUMBIA — Year after year, Stadium Boulevard between Broadway and Interstate 70 is the site of more traffic accidents than any other area of Columbia.
For the third straight year, five of the seven intersections along that stretch of road appear on the city’s top 10 accident locations, and for the third straight year, Stadium Boulevard and Bernadette Drive is the top accident location, according to Columbia Police statistics.
Despite the area’s problems, total crashes in 2007 were down 7 percent and were at their lowest point since 1996, according to police statistics.
“There’s really a lack of relief for motorists,” said Sgt. Timothy Moriarity. “It’s like a centipede: If there’s any type of movement along the body, it crunches up as people try to fill the gaps, and there are so many distractions, so many things that can go wrong when people try to fill up these gaps.”
Moriarity said that section of Stadium Boulevard is often congested by drivers wanting to use Interstate 70 to get across Columbia. “There’s no big thoroughfare to carry motorists across town,” he said.
Bumper-to-bumper traffic there results in numerous fender benders as people try to cut in or stop suddenly. “If you’re going towards I-70, you almost have to pick a lane back at Stadium and Ash,” Moriarity said.
The city hopes its red-light camera project will reduce the number of accidents at certain trouble spots in Columbia, said Assistant City Manager Tony St. Romaine. The police department has provided the company that will install the cameras, LaserCraft Inc., with a list of locations that “were deemed hazardous in terms of prior accidents,” using Columbia Police, Missouri Department of Transportation and city traffic engineering statistics, St. Romaine said.
Five of the locations being considered for cameras are on Stadium Boulevard: Stadium and Worley, Stadium and Ash, Stadium and Broadway, Stadium and Rollins, and Stadium and Old 63.
LaserCraft, which will also get the first look at photos taken by the cameras, recently finished collecting data at certain priority intersections around town and discuss the findings later this week with Columbia officials to decide whether any intersections need red-light cameras, St. Romaine said.
“Anything we can do to make people more aware of their actions and reduce accidents at these locations, needs to be done,” he said.
Though many projects have potential to lower the number of crashes around Columbia, Moriarity said that drivers just have to take responsibility for their own actions behind the wheel.
”People are going to just going to have to be constantly aware and pay attention to what’s going on,” he said. “And knowing where high accident areas are should make them be more careful.”