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Council prioritizes GetAbout Columbia projects

The Columbia City Council makes a final decision on what should get the $22 million federal funding.
Wednesday, July 23, 2008 | 9:26 a.m. CDT; updated 4:28 p.m. CDT, Friday, August 1, 2008

COLUMBIA — A sidewalk on West Boulevard from Stewart Road to Westwinds Drive, a proposed “Hinkson Trail” that connects East Campus to the Stadium/Grindstone Trail and a “Wabash Walkway” from Rogers Street to Business Loop 70 were struck from the priority list of infrastructure projects proposed by the GetAbout Columbia advisory committee on Tuesday night, Jill Stedem, the Public Works Department spokesperson said Wednesday.
The projects’ removal brings the total estimated cost of projects down to about $12.5 million, Stedem said. Funding for GetAbout Columbia projects comes from the $22 million federal Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program.
The City Council reached the decision to strike the projects from the list after listening to the views of 65 members of the public during a special hearing.
One of the prioritized projects is a proposal to halve the cost of constructing a bikeway and sidewalk along Stadium Boulevard, between Providence Road and College Avenue, by building on one side instead of on both sides,  Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said.
The hearing was meant to provide an opportunity for residents and interested parties to weigh in on the proposals before the city arrives at a refined list that suits GetAbout Columbia’s budget requirements. The decision means that GetAbout Columbia has the green light to move the projects in the refined list forward through a series of further planning procedures. Each project is still subject to final approval by the city.
The projects include construction and improvement work on bike trails, sidewalks and shared-use paths, as well as improvements to major intersections. A priority list of 18 projects had been submitted by the advisory committee to the council on July 1. By the time the list was brought before the hearing, another project had been added, along with some modifications to the listed plans.
Two of the most hotly debated issues during the 4½-hour hearing were a proposed connection between Bluff Dale Drive and East Campus, as part of the proposed Hinkson Trail, and a connector linking South Garth Avenue to the Grasslands neighborhood. Both connectors were voted off the priority list.
“The two trail connectors that we’ve been campaigning for are the South Garth connection and the Bluff Dale trail,” said Robert Johnson of the PedNet Coalition before the meeting Tuesday. “The City Council would decide tonight on which (priority) projects to move forward with.”

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