Downtown travelers could find their routes blocked because of construction

Monday, May 19, 2008 | 5:38 p.m. CDT; updated 5:01 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

COLUMBIA — Streets, sidewalks and parking areas around the Daniel Boone City Building could be blocked for phase two of the new City Hall construction.

Northbound traffic on Eighth Street will be one way from Broadway to Walnut Street. Guitar Street on the east side of the Boone building will be closed. The sidewalks at Eighth Street and Broadway will also be closed in construction areas.

Phase two of the expansion will include removing the small building called the annex and adding a five-story addition to City Hall, said Toni Messina, public communications director for the city.

City employees are scattered in several different buildings. “Our goal is to get people together in one area for more efficient process,” said Jill Stedem, public information specialist for the city.

Many people conducting everyday business at City Hall will have to make some small changes. Entrances on Broadway and Eighth Street will be closed. People looking to pay utilities will still be able to use the drive-through behind the building, said Brenda Vaugh of the Columbia utility accounts and billing department; however, the only way to reach the drive-through will be on Seventh Street.

The new building will create a “one-stop shop,” Stedem said, allowing people to conduct their business more efficiently.

The city is also making the building environmentally friendly, Messina said. It will include features such as energy efficient lighting, heating and air conditioning and building materials that are less harmful to the environment.

Messina stressed that the new building will be worth a little inconvenience.

“(The public) should be excited about the construction,” Messina said. “The people are going to get a new asset and new anchor in downtown.”

A public groundbreaking ceremony will take place at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday near the smaller annex building. The city expects to have the City Hall project completed by fall 2010.

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