COLUMBIA — Columbia residents voiced comments and concerns about three of GetAbout Columbia's new project plans at a meeting Thursday night in the Gentry Middle School auditorium. Twelve easels of maps, diagrams and pictures were set up around the room, along with a comment box near the entrance.
The Green Meadows to Rock Bridge Elementary project, most commonly referred to as Providence Bikeway South, and the Greenbriar to Hinkson Creek Trail project were two of the three projects reviewed at the meeting. Both shared-use paths intersect and connect south Columbia to MU trails.
The Providence Bikeway South and Greenbriar trails will be hard surface trails. The Providence Bikeway South trail will have a running path alongside it.
The third project, the Route K Bridge renovation, will also connect south Columbia to MU trails.
"The bridge is going to be completely replaced because it is old and visibly worn," GetAbout manager Ted Curtis said.
The cost to complete the three projects is approximately $3.5 million.
"Projects such as these are done in phases," said Robby Bryant, senior project manager for HDR Engineering, Inc. HDR Engineering is in charge of planning and constructing the three projects.
"First we start with field investigation, which means we look at the different areas and try to come up with the best possible options for creating these paths. What we are doing tonight is showing Columbia the best possible option that we have come up with," Bryant said. "Now we are in the phase where we use the input that community members have and start putting it to work."
Residents who attended the meeting said they supported the project but voiced a few reoccurring safety concerns.
Frederick Schmidt, an avid cyclist and Columbia resident, said his main issue with the projects was safety.
"Projects along high-speed roads have to be well thought out," he said. "There's a great deal of public attention where there are issues of safety at intersections."
Aside from those concerns, Schmidt was a clear advocate of the projects and the work being done on them.
"Green Meadows is a terrible intersection, but it seems as though they have successfully pulled the trail away from the most dangerous part," he said.
Approximately 30 community members attended the meeting, with about seven arriving by bicycle. All were encouraged to fill out comment sheets and were ensured that their thoughts would go directly to City Council to be reviewed and discussed.