COLUMBIA — After the new Scott Boulevard lanes were opened Friday, local business owners expressed excitement about the improved road.
Although there are still traffic cones dividing two southbound lanes into one lane, only some of the area remains muddy and continues to be worked on with heavy equipment. According to a Columbia Public Works Department announcement, remaining work caused the southbound side of the road to be limited to one lane.
The Scott Boulevard project, which began in May 2009, will expand the road to four lanes and add bicycle lanes and sidewalks. The entire project is expected to finish in late August, except for tree planting. motorists and pedestrians can now use the new road, but extreme caution is recommended around the construction area.
Ozan Dague, a manager of Kostaki’s Pizzeria in the Village of Cherry Hill, said he expects bright prospects for his business.
"It’s open finally, thank God," Dague said. The road was still a little bit backed up, but Friday was better for delivery drivers than it had been, he said.
"Still, there is only one line at another side, so it doesn’t really make a big of difference yet," Dague said. "But I'm looking forward to see it done, and if we deliver faster, we get better tips."
Dawni Collins, a waitress of Kostaki's Pizzeria, agreed.
"For example, today, our lunch business was really busy," Collins said. "I know the drivers appreciate that a lot ... Dining business has really picked up, especially today."
Aaron Montgomery, manager of MacXprts in the Village of Cherry Hill, said he and his coworkers are excited for the lane opening. He said that, though there hadn't been much of a drop in business, he was concerned about traffic confusion because it might have affected business.
“We were counting down (for the lane opening),” Montgomery said. “It will give our customers more access to us.”
Stacy Stringer, office assistance at Advanced Vision, said she is happy because the opening will make it easier for children commuting to school.
“It should make life a little bit easier, especially since school is going to be starting," Stringer said, “because last year, it was lined up forever.”
Kyle and Tracy Batisch, owners of KT Diamond Jewelers, said they use the road all the time. The improved Scott Boulevard will help parents taking their children to the Daniel Boone Little League baseball field at Chapel Hill Road and Scott Boulevard, they said.
Samantha Woolridge and Jane Wisniewski, employees at Shear Madness Hair Salon, said they are thrilled, but the lack of light is problematic because the area gets dark at night. They almost drove the wrong way on the Scott Boulevard, Wisniewski said.
“It was when we were making a right turn,” Wisniewski said. “We didn’t know it (the road) was already open, but fortunately there were cars.”
The completed work represents the first of a three-phase strategy for Scott Boulevard. The first phase was estimated to cost $16.1 million, and the expenses as of July 1 are under budget at $14.9 million. The estimated costs of phases two and three are $4.5 million and $8.6 million, respectively, and include reconstructing bridges at Hinkson and Mill creeks. The entire project, which will cost around $28 million in total, was approved by voters as part of a 2005 ballot issue, according to a previous Missourian article.
Jill Stedem, spokeswoman for the Columbia Public Works Department, said that the ribbon cutting ceremony is being planned to be held sometime in September.