COLUMBIA — A $4.1 million extension of Rolling Hills Road in east Columbia won the approval of the City Council on Monday night.
The project, which has been on city plans for years, would extend Rolling Hills Road north to Richland Road from the Old Hawthorne Development that’s being built on the north side of Route WW. Part of the costs will go to build a bridge across the North Fork of Grindstone Creek.
Initially the new road will have two lanes and accommodate two-way traffic, but the city plans to design and buy enough right-of-way for a four-lane road. Combined with the section through Old Hawthorne and with improvements to the road south of Route WW, Rolling Hills will become a significant north-south thoroughfare on the city’s east side.
The City Council approved the proposal, but members disagreed about whether it deserved to be such a high priority.
First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz, the only member to vote against the proposal, said he believes city money could be better spent elsewhere.
“It’s not that I have any huge problems with this project,” Sturtz said. “But when we vote for this project, whether we like it or not, we’re also voting no on a lot of other projects.”
Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said the road is a vital part of the future of east Columbia.
“I think this is the critical arterial infrastructure for eastern Columbia for several decades to come,” Wade said. “I think that it needs to be done now, not later, because it will frame the future of that eastern part.”
The city already has about $360,000 appropriated for the project, and it will need another $3.74 million to complete the road. The rest of the money will come from the city’s capital improvements sales tax.
The extension and widening of Rolling Hills Road is one of several street and highway projects planned for the rapidly developing area of east Columbia.
Although there is no money budgeted yet, the city and state plan to eventually extend Stadium Boulevard from U.S. 63 north and east to the Lake of the Woods interchange at Interstate 70. There also are plans to widen and improve Route WW and to create an I-70 overpass at Ballenger Lane.