COLUMBIA — Construction is expected to begin this summer on a pedway on the west side of Old 63 that will connect the Hinkson Creek and Shepard Boulevard neighborhoods to two city parks.
The 8-foot-wide concrete pedway will connect to existing trails at Grindstone Nature Area and Stephens Lake Park. The pedway — a surface that accommodates bicycles and pedestrians — will provide more convenient access to these areas for joggers, walkers and bicyclists, especially those who live near Old 63.
The $780,000 trail is being paid for by a federal grant and funds from a city sales tax for parks.
The Columbia City Council approved construction after its public hearing on Feb. 2.
Jeanine Pagan, president of the Hinkson Creek Neighborhood Association, told the council the pedway will be a welcomed addition.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, who lives in the Hinkson Creek neighborhood, said most residents support the project. “I haven’t really heard of complaints by neighbors,” she said.
Hoppe added that her next-door neighbor Bruce Summers, who lives on Bluff Dale Drive, does have some apprehensions. “His driveway goes onto Old 63 instead of Bluff Dale, so he’s just concerned about backing up or pulling out of his driveway into more traffic — pedestrian and bike traffic,” Hoppe said.
“It’s not so much that I am against the trail, I just think it’s overkill to spend that much money,” Summers said.
Summers said he thinks funding for the project could be better spent on other things, such as people who are starving or can’t pay for health insurance. “I look at those as higher priorities,” he said.
Old 63 residents will not lose any land to the project, Park Services Manager Mike Griggs said. Construction will consist of removing the grass between the sidewalk and the road and replacing the current 4-foot sidewalk with an 8-foot pedway.
Griggs said traffic on Old 63 might be affected as concrete is poured, but there will be minimal impact to residents.
According to City Park Planning and Development Superintendent Steve Saitta, there is a proposal for a pedestrian crossing at Shepard Boulevard and Old 63.
“The residents are in favor of a pedestrian crossing at Shepard so that whole neighborhood can get across to the pedway,” Hoppe said.
Hoppe said she thinks the new connection will also be helpful to commuters. “There’s lighting there so it can be used all through the year,” Hoppe said. “When it gets dark at 5 p.m., you can still use it to come home from work or go downtown.”