COLUMBIA — Hickman High School students who walk across the street to Taco Bell for lunch will have an improved intersection to do just that.
The Columbia City Council voted unanimously Monday night to make improvements to the intersection of Business Loop 70 and Providence Road. The large number of Hickman students who jaywalk across Providence Road prompted the improvements.
"For the safety of the students, we cannot wait three more years," Third Ward Councilman Gary Kespohl said. "We have to do something now."
The improvements include pedestrian signs at every corner, marked crosswalks and two pedestrian islands. The intersection also will be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The entire project is expected to be completed before the next school year and cost roughly $600,000 to $700,000.
"This is one of the most heavy pedestrian sections of the entire city, and we need to do something about it," First Ward Councilman Paul Sturtz said. "There's thousands of kids who cross that street every day."
Although council members stressed the importance of the improvements, the council failed to push the project through at both its Sept. 7 and Oct. 4 meetings. Each time, the city failed to notify property owners who would be affected.
"The first time I heard about the project was one week before the council meeting," said Beatrice Smith, owner of the Taco Bell property. Smith's property will lose two parking spaces because of sidewalk improvements.
City staff said they will make sure they contact property owners within a month of future council meetings. Mayor Bob McDavid apologized to the property owners who were not notified of the meetings.
"I apologize to the city for faults in our process," McDavid said. "We can do better. Notification will be much more timely."