West Broadway expansion options revealed

Wednesday, June 10, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Jamie Jeffries, left, looks over plans for the proposed West Broadway extension with City of Columbia representative David Nichol, who helped spearhead the project. A meeting to discuss the final plans for the extension was held Tuesday at the Activity and Recreation Center.

COLUMBIA — Residents and neighborhood association members of West Broadway and surrounding Old Southwest were in attendance for the final Community Advisory Committee meeting on the West Broadway expansion.

The committee met Tuesday with city staff and CH2M Hill engineering design consultants to discuss the final design options for the expansion.


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The expansion is a project that would widen West Broadway between the intersections of Garth Avenue and West Boulevard.

At the meeting, design consultants Timothy Nittler and Buddy Desai gave a detailed presentation of what the final design could look like.

A major concern of city officials and designers has been whether the desired dimensions could accommodate an emergency vehicle were another vehicle on the road at the same time. The city provided the designers with a video to show how a road that is too small could hinder the speed of an emergency vehicle.

“If there is a narrower pavement, then there will have to be some makeup for the space in the median to accommodate the emergency vehicles,” Desai said.

Residents were willing to work with designers to come to a suitable solution that would make it possible for emergency vehicles to travel down West Broadway easily.

The designers presented the residents with three design options from which to choose.

The first design option would consist of a 12-foot raised median, a 12-foot vehicle lane and a 6-foot bicycle lane. Residents also had the option of including a sidewalk or a pedway, as well as a tree lawn. Many expressed concerns that though they would like a bike lane, buses could interfere with it.

The second option would consist of a 12-foot depressed median, a shared 14-foot vehicle/bike lane and the option of a pedway, sidewalk or tree lawn. Although many expressed concerns that ice could accumulate on the median during bad weather, the majority of the committee appeared to favor this design.

The final choice would include the raised median from the first design and expand it to 16 feet, and also feature the 14-foot shared vehicle/bike lane. Although they did not oppose this design, many residents expressed concerns over the amount of property that could be lost using this option.

“Any way that we can (take off) a foot here, even it means bike lanes that are five feet instead of six or sidewalks that are five feet instead of 10,” said Jason Cooley, the West Broadway Neighborhood Association president.

Another idea introduced was the possibility of a four-lane street with a center turn lane. Some residents said they thought that would take away the residential feel of their neighborhood.

“Then you have this big piece of concrete that looks like a big highway right in the middle of our neighborhood,” committee member Karen Miller said.

Once residents give their input, the committee plans to send a recommendation to City Council. The designers expect to complete the recommendation by late July.

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Derrick Fogle June 10, 2009 | 10:33 a.m.

I am an affected resident of W. Broadway, and here's my input:

First, and most importantly, the "problem" with W. Broadway, the reason for traffic backups, is the intersection with West Blvd. In the end, it doesn't matter what is done to W. Broadway itself, the West Blvd. intersection will still exist and still be a bottleneck and still cause some traffic delays. I sure hope a lighting control system upgrade will be included as part of the road project, because if it isn't, people are going to be sorely disappointed in the results. Frankly, a group of Jr. High kids with a couple thousand dollars of computer equipment could do an excellent job of meeting the programming challenge that intersection presents. Or, a single experienced traffic control officer could, too. It's sad and pathetic that the city has failed so miserably to meet this challenge. Coming up with a 5-year, $6M+ road reconstruction project to solve what is actually a 1-year, $250,000 light control system project is, um... classic Columbia leadership. Great work, guys!

Second, I see that the option of an open center turn lane has been taken off the table. That, in itself, is fine. But claiming that a median is the best solution for overall traffic flow is pure bullsh*t. By far the simplest, most effective, least expensive, most flexible solution for optimum traffic flow is an open center turn lane. The median is pure fru-fru designer pop culture. At least the negative effect of a median on traffic flow and surrounding neighborhoods is known to be small.

As a homeowner with a driveway that will be blocked by a median, I say "bring it on." Fru-fru designer pop culture it may be, but it will certainly be the best for my long-term property values. From a purely selfish, "looking out for number one" perspective, I'm all for it. It's up to the rest of the city to decide whether or not raising my fortunes will benefit the city at large. I believe it will. Anyway, worst case, if this city does eventually decide the median is a boondoggle, it can always be torn out and paved over. It won't even cost that much to do.

I am totally ready and willing to commit to driving safely and responsibly on the side streets. This means 20mph max, lots of patience, and a sharp eye for kids, pets, bikes, and pedestrians. In fact, I mostly ride my bike, and my wife walks to work, anyway. I'm not part of the traffic problem, never have been, and never will be. I sure hope everyone else that lives on W. Broadway is prepared for this responsible driving commitment, too. The first time one of us goes tearing up or down one of those side streets at 45mph (I'm calling you out, Fred :-) there's gonna be hell to pay.

Thanks for reading!

(Report Comment)
Blake Segafredo June 10, 2009 | 12:38 p.m.

I have one question. Why are will still pursuing the widening of Broadway? The traffic study that was done about a year and a half ago very poignantly pointed out that with the exception of a few time periods the road was more then adequate and would be until 2025 (I believe that was the date). I live on the west side of town, I drive Broadway a lot. The only time there are issues in the early evening (4pm-6pm). Otherwise the road is open wide and traffic is rarely a problem. I don’t see a reason to make a change. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well West Broadway ain’t broke! Why are we wasting money on the project and in turn pissing off multiple neighborhoods and property owners in the area. I think it’s pretty obvious why there are budgeting issues in the city.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox June 11, 2009 | 12:53 p.m.

I live off of W Broadway and traffic is just not bad, this project is worthless, if we have so much extra money in Columbia why don't we lower taxes instead of push worthless 8 story parking garage and unnecessary street widening. I bought a house in a nice quite neighborhood now the city wants to put a effing 4 lane highway through it.

(Report Comment)
kate June 11, 2009 | 1:13 p.m.

I totally agree. Broadway is not the problem. Scott Blvd. IS the problem - people race down that road and there are ditches on either side. The Chapel Hill extension has helped a lot with the traffic patterns, but it didn't affect the danger of this road.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro June 11, 2009 | 1:34 p.m.

The problems with W. Broadway are below the surface of the road and the traffic control devices which need modifying during certain times of the day. (Real cities also dispatch traffic cops during high peak problem times.)
Our approach to a "fake problem" will just put more money into the pockets of those who thrive on the city's mistakes.
("The first design option would consist of a 12-foot raised median, a 12-foot vehicle lane and a 6-foot bicycle lane.")
The invention of the bicycle will be the destruction of everything good in this town...

(Report Comment)

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