COLUMBIA — Public concern ran high Monday night as the Columbia City Council considered a $19.7 million proposal to construct street and sewer improvements at several locations in northwest Columbia along the Stadium Boulevard corridor to Interstate 70.
The area currently handles up to 25,000 vehicles each day, and traffic demands are projected to double in the next 20 years.
Seventeen citizens addressed their concerns to the council for the better part of two hours. After extensive discussion, the council tabled the resolution until its July 19 meeting to give city staff time to investigate solutions to the concerns.
The improvements are intended to increase traffic flow through the area by 40 percent.
Proposed improvements include:
- a "diverging diamond interchange" at I-70 and Stadium Boulevard, similar to the one currently in use in Springfield, Mo.
- addition of a third through lane on both sides of Stadium Boulevard from Broadway to Interstate 70
- raised medians on Bernadette Drive from Fairview Road to Beverly Drive
- raised medians on Worley, Ash and Broadway
- sidewalks along Stadium Boulevard and Broadway
- three turn lanes at the intersection of Bernadette Drive and Stadium
- a new traffic signal at Hutchens Drive
- new turn lanes, bicycle lanes and sidewalks along Fairview Road
Residents were generally supportive of the project as a whole but took issue with specific parts of the plan.
Barbara Allen, who lives on West Briarwood Lane, said that it is already impossible to hold a conversation in her backyard due to traffic noise. She asked that the city consider building a sound barrier to ease the burden on homeowners in the area.
The raised medians were also contentious, as residents complained that they would be forced to navigate several blocks out of the way in order to leave their neighborhoods. Business owners said they were worried the medians would reduce the ability of customers to access their businesses.
Tenants of the Columbia Mall, along with representatives from several adjacent properties, asked for an additional traffic light at the intersection of Bernadette Drive and Knipp Street to ease congestion in the area.
Public safety concerns also surfaced as citizens lobbied for more sidewalks to allow for bicycles and pedestrians to access commercial properties.