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Pedestrian signal proposed near Douglass High School

Thursday, February 18, 2010 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 10:17 a.m. CST, Thursday, February 18, 2010

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Public Works Department sought public feedback  about a new plan for an improved pedestrian crossing on Providence Road near Douglass High School.

Scott Bitterman, a city traffic engineer, presented the plan Wednesday night at Douglass.

The plan consists of four main parts:

  • Remove the existing pedestrian bridge
  • Create a pedestrian signal
  • Create a combination concrete/landscaped raised median
  • Open the fence in front of Douglass High School for access to the crossing

Previously, the construction of a new pedestrian bridge was proposed, but Bitterman said that building another overpass wouldn't necessarily mean that people would use it.  

"In reality, pedestrians often ignore structures, placing themselves in greater danger," Bitterman said.

Instead, the plan proposes that a traffic signal be added to help pedestrians cross the street safely. A raised median in the middle of the street would also be included as a buffer zone between the lanes of traffic.

Pedestrians would stop traffic by pushing a button on either side of the street or on the median. 

"The idea is to make it as safe as possible for pedestrians and to make it as safe as possible for cars," Bitterman said.

Cornellia Williams, an employee of the Columbia Housing Authority, said that because Providence Road is so well traveled, this plan is going to affect both drivers and pedestrians. Her main concern, though, is about the safety of people crossing the road.

"It's about keeping the people safe and not so much about the traffic flow," Williams said.

Bitterman said the cost of implementing the pedestrian signal would be less expensive than putting in an overpass. The money would come from the federal grant issued to Get About Columbia, if it decided to use the money for this project. Bitterman estimated the cost to be about $200,000, but that doesn't include tearing down the existing overpass. The plan is so new that the exact cost is unknown.

Jeff Johnson, a member of the community, said that he liked the idea Bitterman presented so far.

"We need to have more meetings like this to get more public input," Johnson said.

The next step is for the Public Works Department to compile the feedback from the meeting. If the feedback is mostly positive, they will present the plan to the City Council for an official public hearing. If it is negative, a new concept will have to be created and presented at another public meeting.


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