GetAbout Columbia intersection projects near completion

Friday, April 3, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The first capital projects slated to be completed for the GetAbout Columbia program have caused some big traffic jams.

But according to an updated status report released at an infrastructure subcommittee meeting Thursday evening, the headaches could soon be over. The three intersection improvement projects are expected to be finished May 15, weather permitting.

Those intersections are at Providence and Stewart roads, Stadium and Forum boulevards, and Stadium Boulevard and Providence Road.

Each area was only slightly tweaked, said Ted Curtis, director of GetAbout Columbia.

"There are not a lot of what I call earth-shaking changes," he said.

Plans for the projects vary with each intersection. Three corners of the Providence and Stewart crossing received bigger landing areas and widened ramps that comply with the American with Disabilities Act. New pedestrian signals were also added. There is no change in the number of lanes at Providence and Stadium, but yield lanes have been reconfigured. At Forum and Stadium, safety islands were added between lanes, which Curtis said provides a safety area for pedestrians and bicyclists.

Total cost for the three intersections is estimated at $1.2 million, according to the GetAbout Columbia budget. Curtis said it averaged to about $400,000 per improvement project.

Two other intersection improvements have been proposed for Providence at Business Loop 70 and Providence at Green Meadows Road. Each is in preliminary planning stages, with a total budget of $1.3 million for both.

Kevin Holle, a member of Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity who lives south of Nifong Road, said both the Providence intersection improvements have added to his stress.

He said one of the biggest wastes of time and money is near his former home, the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house just west of the Providence and Stewart intersection.

"They tore up a sidewalk that didn't need to be torn up and put a new one down," Holle said. "It's better designed and newer, but nothing was really wrong with it in the first place."

The bigger pain, Holle said, is the traffic caused by construction at the larger intersection of Providence and Stadium. The MU sophomore said he is forced to leave 15 minutes earlier than he previously did to make it to school on time.

"I kind of feel like it's a government waste," he said.

But Curtis said even the small changes at the intersections were necessary to make Columbia's busy roads safer for pedestrians.

"Until you see how it works with people, it's hard to see the difference," he said.

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Michael Scott April 3, 2009 | 7:54 a.m.

These projects are a complete disgrace. What a waste of money and a big inconvenience to motorist and businesses. Someone needs to put a stop to this program that is only going to cost tax payers a tremendous amount of money in maintenance down the road.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 3, 2009 | 9:28 a.m.

Once the improvements are in, they're in. Why are these intersections going to cost taxpayers money down the road?

You may be glad we have some of these things if you go to your friendly neighborhood gas station someday, and they don't have any gas...


(Report Comment)
John Schultz April 3, 2009 | 9:29 a.m.

While I don't necessarily agree that the projects were necessary, I don't foresee any maintenance expenses that the city or MODOT would not have been on the hook for with the previous intersection configurations. Unfortunately, our federal legislators have already appropriated the money and sent it on the Columbia, so the only real recourse is convincing the city council of the best projects on which to use it (and vote out the bums in Washington D.C.).

(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand April 3, 2009 | 12:08 p.m.

Wow. $1.2 million for tweaking. Sounds as wasteful as sharrows.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking April 4, 2009 | 3:32 a.m.

Another feature of some of the tweaked intersections is what's called an "Australian right turn" which brings the turning traffic in more perpendicular to the street they are entering. It means drivers don't need to twist their necks as much. Since the average driver in Columbia has a portion of their peripheral vision blocked by the cell phone they are holding to their head, this design will make it safer for motorists as well.


(Report Comment)
Ayn Rand April 4, 2009 | 2:49 p.m.

Good one, Mark!

(Report Comment)

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