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Council moves ahead with three GetAbout Columbia projects

Monday, March 2, 2009 | 10:58 p.m. CST; updated 11:44 a.m. CST, Tuesday, March 3, 2009

COLUMBIA — Six new GetAbout Columbia projects — four trail connections and two sidewalks — went before the City Council on Monday and caused much discussion.

GetAbout, a federally financed program designed to promote nonmotorized transportation, has proposed a sidewalk on the north side of Broadway from Fairview Road to Stadium Boulevard and a sidewalk on the east side of Providence Road from Blue Ridge Road to Smiley Lane. The council unanimously approved both projects on Monday following brief public hearings.

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The council also made decisions regarding the MKT Connector Projects at Garth Extension Trail, Katy Place Trail, Forum/Katy Lane and Wilson's Trail. After public discussion, the council voted to move ahead on the Garth Extension Trail, making it a priority among the connector projects, and also asked for a report on a new design for the Wilson Trail. The council asked that GetAbout wait and see what funds are left before beginning projects at the Katy Place Trail and the connection at Forum Boulevard and Katy Lane.

GetAbout Director Ted Curtis said the trail connections are designed to make the MKT Nature/Fitness Trail more accessible through neighborhoods. Total construction costs for the four walkways is estimated at $1.5 million, which is $700,000 more than was originally slated.

Public Works Director John Glascock estimated that another $1 million would be necessary to complete all the projects. He said that thus far, GetAbout projects involving intersections have cost more than originally estimated.

The Stadium Boulevard sidewalk, the Garth Extension Trail and Wilson's Trail roused the most public comment during Monday's meeting.

Lisa Gromer, who owns Kids Depot Preschool, was concerned that the Stadium Boulevard and Forum Road sidewalk project would affect her business.

"Previous construction has affected the playground and the drop-off area (at the preschool)," Gromer said. "If I lose even one child (as a client), that results in a loss of $176,000 in income for myself and my staff."

Regarding the Garth Extension Trail, most residents were originally opposed to the extension. After several meetings, city staff drafted an alternative alignment for the trail that would go through SAE fraternity property. Although three people spoke in support of this new plan, Catey Terry maintained her opposition to it.

"It's on our corner, and I'm opposed because the neighborhood is so connected already," Terry said. "There are several entrances already, and they aren't invasive."

Residents also raised concern that the Garth Extension Trail would hurt the privacy and safety of University Village housing on Providence Road.

Most of the discussion during the public hearing was about the plan for the Wilson's Trail. More than 10 people spoke in support of the trail, while five spoke against it. The five in opposition said the expansion of the trail into the Lakewood Rail neighborhood would negatively affect both privacy and property values.

James Dean Abrams of Wilson's Fitness proposed the trail change course altogether to avoid the Lakewood Rail neighborhood by coming down Forum Boulevard and crossing a levy. But he did point out that this new route could be potentially dangerous because of high speed limits on the road. He also said many Lakewood residents attend Wilson's Fitness, and the alternate route would make it easier for those members to get to the health club.

City Council members voted to get a report on the financial breakdown of this new plan. Glascock said that the new plan might save the city money.

Missourian reporter Alex Lundy contributed to this report.


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Comments

Phil Wilkinson March 3, 2009 | 4:15 a.m.

First off, Why would the loss of 1 preschool client result in a loss of 176K ?
2nd, Why not buy a bus to transport Wilson Fitness customers to and fro.....much cheaper than concrete I would think. Sounds like a statement the mayor would make.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand March 3, 2009 | 6:44 a.m.

$176K has gotta be a typo or misquote. If she really said that, the reporters should have immediately asked her to clarify because that doesn't pass the straight-face test.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote March 3, 2009 | 10:35 a.m.

Just last week I biked from the University to Wilson's fitness. I went at 6pm and it was definitely faster than driving, in addition to being quite pleasant. However, crossing the creek entailed riding on a very narrow bridge on Forum and than taking an immediate left into Wilson's. Unfortunately, the road curves at this point and with the speed of drivers, it is not very safe. I ended up just waiting on the side of the road until both lanes of traffic were clear. A trail would definitely be safer, and based on the current infrastructure, warranted. Cities and states routinely construct infrastructure for the benefit of local businesses and commerce (see Grindstone Parkway or widening Broadway to four lanes from old 63 to 63).
It seems that opposition to the trail extension is due to the type of transportation that would use it, rather than if its actually warranted or not, i.e. folks who don't bike won't use it and don't think its worth it. Moreover, this same group of people are opposed to sharing the roads with bicyclists, much less having to wait on one taking a left into Wilson's off of Forum.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking March 3, 2009 | 11:00 a.m.

$17,600 (for a child at Kids Depot) I might believe, although even that seems awful high for what's basically a day care center.

DK

(Report Comment)
Panama Red March 3, 2009 | 11:14 a.m.

$176k per kid?

I'm in the wrong business!

(Report Comment)
Common Sense Cyclist March 3, 2009 | 2:41 p.m.

I'm perplexed. I'd really like to know the criteria that Get-About uses to determine where a trail connector or enhancement for cyclists/pedestrians is needed. Is there a criteria? Or is it as arbitrary as it appears?

Why does Garth need a connector when it is a mere block away from an elaborate trail head? The Providence/Stewart Rd trail head and intersection has been completely revamped and realigned to the tune of big bucks. Mere common sense would make one question why an additional connector is needed a block away.

A connector at Katy Lane begs the same question. I've never had any difficulty getting from Katy Lane to the trail. It's less than a stone's throw with a broken arm. I'll admit that an enhanced connection would be nice, but there are places with *much* more of a need than at the Katy Lane trail head. For example, there is only one public access between Forum and Scotts Blvd. How convenient is that for anyone who lives or is traveling in the west portion of the trail?

The Wilson's connection makes the most sense, given the traffic volume, speed and bridge on Forum.

Moreover, I haven't seen a lot of pedestrian improvements that the grant should have provided for. Bicycle oriented improvements seem to be getting the lion's share.

Get-About may suffer from a lack of self-awareness because it does appear that their decisions are made arbitrarily and by whim. I hate to see an opportunity of federal dollars squandered like this and its sad that our normally astute council isn't taking them to task.

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand March 3, 2009 | 2:47 p.m.

Common Sense Cyclist, GetAbout wastes money. Case in point: The sharrows on Berrywood.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr March 3, 2009 | 3:04 p.m.

Yes bicycle traffic is obviously more important that foot traffic downtown and other areas.

How many citizens have tripped over broken sidewalks downtown is the question.

(Report Comment)

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