COLUMBIA — The City Council unanimously voted to approve the creation of sidewalks and bike lanes in the Range Line Street area at its Monday night meeting.
"In my opinion, this is a very needed thing,” Mayor Darwin Hindman said. “It fills the gap between the new (Highway) 763 project and getting it connected to the downtown project. I very much support it.”
According to a report from the city manager's office, the project’s budget is $570,000, including construction costs estimated at $355,846. The money will come from Non-Motorized Transportation Funds through efforts by a GetAbout Columbia project, the report stated.
The project’s goals are to narrow the vehicle lanes to create bike lanes on Range Line Street between Business Loop 70 and Big Bear Boulevard.
The sidewalk on the west side of the street will run from Bear Creek Trail north to Big Bear Boulevard.
The report also stated there will be a “continuous pedestrian way” on the east side from Business Loop 70 to Big Bear Boulevard. The pedestrian way on the east side of Range Line, between Vandiver and Bear Creek Trail, will use the existing paved shoulder. The report stated everything else would be 5-inch to 6-inch sidewalks.
Connie Dunn, a resident of the area, spoke at the public hearing to give council members “a view of what it is like to be a biker and a walker on Range Line.”
“As a walker, you have to walk against traffic to feel safe,” Dunn said. “It is very narrow at times, especially when you walk under the (Interstate 70) overpass."
Dunn also discussed the problems she’s encountered with the lack of sidewalks, especially in inclement weather.
“When you are a walker heading north, there is hardly any shoulder in front of the corner of Business Loop and Range Line,” Dunn said. “And when it’s raining, in order to feel safe, you have to walk on grass, and it’s very muddy and slick.”
Dunn’s biggest issues with biking in the area involve riding near I-70.
“As a biker, it's a problem to go straight while everyone is going onto I-70,” Dunn said. “It’s a very scary situation.”
In response to Dunn’s concerns, Hindman discussed the bike lanes that would be put in the area and said all of her concerns were addressed in the plan.
“You’ll be able to go straight through,” he said.
The project was initially approved by the council at a July 2008 special meeting and was reviewed at a meeting with MoDOT in February 2009, the report stated.
“By our schedule, we're targeting the end of the year to have the construction contract awarded,” said Ted Curtis, manager of GetAbout Columbia.