COLUMBIA — Slowly but surely, the west face of Boone Hospital Center is undergoing a transformation as work continues on a multimillion-dollar parking garage at William Street and Bass Avenue. A colossal crane hovers over the construction site, and signs warn drivers that William Street is partially closed.
Soon, however, William Street will undergo a transformation of its own. Boone Hospital Center is waiting for the Columbia City Council's approval of a plan to spend $1.5 million to beautify and widen the East Campus street. The hospital has told the city it wants to do so for the benefit of patients, the neighborhood and the city. It would cover nearly 70 percent of the cost of the proposed project.
Under the agreement, which the council introduced at its Monday meeting, Boone Hospital Center would:
• Widen parts of William Street at East Broadway to improve northbound traffic flow. Improvements would include a dedicated left turn lane, two through lanes and a right turn lane.
• Design and build an 8-foot pedway with a 5-foot landscaped buffer featuring street trees, landscaping and lighting on the west side of William Street, plus a 6-foot sidewalk with a similar 5-foot landscaped buffer on the east side of William from Broadway to Anthony Street.
• Design and build a 6-foot sidewalk with a 5-foot landscaped buffer on the north and south sides of Bass Avenue from William Street to 240 feet west of the intersection of Bass Avenue and William Street.
• Design and construct a traffic circle with approach medians at the intersection of William Street, Bass Avenue and the Boone Hospital Center entrance drive.
Boone Hospital Center spokeswoman Kyle Sheafer said the street work is part of the hospital expansion project that began last year and includes not only the parking garage but also a new patient tower. She said it symbolizes the hospital's passion for change, "for our patients as well as for the community."
To reflect the community's interests, Boone Hospital Center met with the East Campus Neighborhood Association to ensure members were happy with the plans. Sheafer said they shared concerns about lighting, safety, traffic and especially noise during construction.
"We have taken those concerns into consideration," she said.
East Campus Neighborhood Association President Bonnie Bourne confirmed the hospital had met with the group.
"We live 2½ blocks from the garage construction, and we have not experienced any noise construction that has affected our quality of life," Bourne said. "We are all happy about the landscaping that will take place."