COLUMBIA — Allison Felton said she would find a new home if the city widened West Broadway to four lanes of traffic between Garth Avenue and West Boulevard.
"It would just be too dangerous," she said. "And it takes away so much of the value of living right here."
But the latest plan, discussed at an April 8 West Broadway Community Advisory Committee meeting, features two lanes with raised medians separating traffic and left-turn lanes at intersections. The committee met with the private engineering firm CH2M Hill five times over the past year to develop the plan.
Committee member Dan Cass, who lives on West Broadway, said he liked the addition of bike lanes and green space. The layout of each side of the road, totaling 71 feet, has a:
- 5-foot sidewalk
- 5-foot tree lawn
- 6-foot striped bike lane
- 12-foot vehicle lane
- 12-foot landscaped median in the center
Buddy Desai, an engineer with the firm, said the residents wanted to maintain a residential feel and lower traffic speeds.
The addition of the medians would keep speeds low, Desai said. However, it could cause inconveniences as well, since the medians would require drivers to turn right when they exit their driveways. This means that residents on the north side of Broadway wouldn't be able to turn left to head downtown. They would have to turn right out of their driveway and then turn around on another street.
Residents on Anderson Avenue and Westwood Avenue would only turn right onto Broadway, as well.
Desai said it was a concern the engineering firm couldn't accommodate, but said the medians were important.
"It significantly improves the safety," he said.
Felton said she liked the idea of adding medians. Broadway merges two lanes of traffic into one where she lives now. She said she sees near-crashes every day.
She also doesn't let her 8-year-old daughter take the walking school bus program to Grant Elementary because of the speeding cars next to the sidewalk. Felton said she supports the addition of the 5-foot tree lawn between the sidewalks and the road, because it would act as a safety buffer for pedestrians.
Cass was skeptical about the need for so much construction on the road.
"Broadway has handled this traffic flow and it's decreasing every year," Cass said. "I don't know why we need to do anything other than fix the sidewalks."
The City Council will hold a public hearing before voting on whether to move forward. Spokeswoman Jill Stedem said she wasn't sure when the city would submit the plan, which doesn't have any identified funding yet, to the council.
If the council approves the plan, it would take up to two years to acquire private land for the project, Stedem said.
Cass said some residents would lose about five feet of their yard.
"And it would be more for some and less for others," said Cass, who would lose about eight feet of his yard.
A walk along Broadway showed several trees and bushes on private land that would have to be moved or cut down in addition to the many telephone poles and fire hydrants that would need to be moved.