COLUMBIA — City officials and Columbia residents living along West Boulevard are discussing ways to limit or completely prohibit commercial trucks from using a mile-long stretch of the street.
Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade has proposed an ordinance that would prohibit all commercial trucks from using West Boulevard as a through street from its intersection with I-70 Drive Southwest to the north and Stadium Boulevard to the south. That stretch of road contains two school zones and several commercial properties but is mostly residential.
The legislation was proposed amid concerns from residents living along the street pertaining to safety issues created not only by trucks passing through the busy two-lane street but also speeding motorists. The street is one of a few north-south thoroughfares in the city.
The Columbia City Council was scheduled to vote on the ordinance at its regular meeting Monday but decided to table the matter until its July 6 meeting. A Public Works report indicated it did not recommend passage of the ordinance because it would be difficult for police to discern delivery trucks from trucks using the street as a through road.
Pamela Cooper, a West Boulevard resident, said the issue was brought up last year during meetings of GetAbout Columbia that involved pedestrian safety.
Cooper said the street attracts high-speed traffic because it has fewer stoplights and signs than the next closest north-south thoroughfare – Stadium Boulevard – and widens after its intersection with Stewart Road. This prompts motorists to drive faster, she said.
“I really like this neighborhood,” Cooper said. “I really like the ambiance.”
But, she said, the neighborhood could improve if speeding traffic was contained. She said crossing the street at certain high-traffic times of the day is comparable to “taking your life in your hands.”
Peter Stiepleman, principal at West Boulevard Elementary School, said the school operates one of the largest Walking School Bus programs in the city.
Wade said the school zones on the street were a particular concern for the city and residents.
“That’s a safety issue we need to address,” Wade said.
Wade, Public Works officials and residents have met to seek a compromise between residents’ concerns and concerns raised by Public Works.
One recommendation made by Public Works is the installation of two roundabouts on West Boulevard, where it intersects with Ash Street and Stewart Road.
Wade said it was not likely that plan would be adopted because the construction would intrude on private property at those intersections.
Cooper said construction of the roundabouts would cause a “public uproar” because residents living at those corners would lose large pieces of their yards.
Wade said other ideas that residents and city officials considered are the addition of four-way stops at the street’s intersection with Rollins Road and banning commercial trucks in the street’s school zones from 7 to 9 a.m. and from 3 to 5 p.m.
John Cleek, who owns three commercial properties at the intersection of the street and West Worley Street, said commercial truck traffic hasn't been a problem for him.
“It looks like they’re trying to create a problem that doesn’t exist,” Cleek said.
Patricia Hoddinott, who lives on Prospect Street, which intersects with West Boulevard, said residents and city officials will meet again June 17 to discuss the issue.