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Residents discuss proposed I-70 truck-only lanes

Wednesday, March 4, 2009 | 9:40 p.m. CST; updated 10:40 p.m. CST, Wednesday, March 4, 2009

COLUMBIA — Ed Krehbiel has owned Clark Trailer Court, which sits on the north side of Interstate 70, since 1947. Some might think he would be upset about the dotted line that runs through his property for the proposed truck-only lanes, particularly because their placement took him a little by surprise.

"I was under the impression the truck lanes would go clear around the city," Krehbiel said at an open-house hearing for the planned lanes. "But I'm old enough that it doesn't bother me. I don't intend to sell it."

Krehbiel, like other residents in Columbia, Warrenton and Blue Springs, accepted the Missouri Department of Transportation's invitation to critique the most recent plan to improve I-70. A $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation funded the study discussed Wednesday.

Those in attendance were able to walk around the Activities and Recreation Center, where plans for the estimated $3.9 billion project were on display.

Tim Teddy, planning director for the City of Columbia, said the proposed truck lanes deserve "serious consideration."

"It's an opportunity to do something rare in highway planning," Teddy said, adding that the split interstate is a multi-state effort.

Teddy also said because I-70 runs right through the center of town, Columbia residents might use the state's main artery for more local trips if it were less congested.

"A lot of people would use it more often if trucks were out of the way," he said. "There's also a safety benefit."

But Chris Dwyer, who lives in northern Boone County, said he's not a big fan of the truck-only lanes. He said he fears those traveling in the general traffic lanes would soon resent the truck lanes that, he said, would have little to no traffic.

With both freight and general traffic expected to double by 2030, Dwyer said the earlier plan to simply widen I-70 was better.

Bob Brendel, outreach coordinator for MoDOT, said there's no funding available for the multi-billion dollar effort so the department can't guarantee a ground breaking on the truck-only lanes in the near future.

Brendel said the open-house hearings are a requisite to receive any federal funding for highway construction projects. Once the hearings are over, MoDOT will evaluate the public's comments to determine if changes must be made to the current draft. The department will then shelve the plans — post-approval from the Federal Highway Administration and the state Highways and Transportation Commission — until enough money is available.

MoDOT has no say in the funding situation, Brendel said.

But Teddy said Missourians should get used to a strategy that's not going away.

"MoDOT's made a convincing case that it's got to be a priority," he said. "Citizens just need to bite the bullet."


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Comments

Ayn Rand March 6, 2009 | 6:44 a.m.

"Teddy also said because I-70 runs right through the center of town, Columbia residents might use the state's main artery for more local trips if it were less congested. 'A lot of people would use it more often if trucks were out of the way,' he said."

Got any research to back that up? Everybody I know doesn't hesitate to use 70 to get from one end of town to the other, such as to the mall.

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