Grasslands residents seek traffic relief

Monday, August 29, 2011 | 9:32 p.m. CDT; updated 3:52 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 30, 2011

COLUMBIA — The Grasslands Neighborhood Association and the city's Public Works Department are working toward a traffic solution for the intersection of Providence and Burnam roads. Nearly $1 million for the project is included in the city's proposed capital improvements budget for fiscal 2012 and beyond.

Plans are under way to design and develop a signalized intersection where Burnam and Providence meet about two blocks north of Stadium Boulevard. Burnam, which is on the west side of Providence, is one of the main entrances to the Grasslands neighborhood. This centrally located road is often blocked by congested traffic.

“There might be three or four hours during a day when it can be difficult to get in or out of the neighborhood,” said Grasslands Neighborhood Association President John Ott.

Grasslands residents want a safer and more convenient way to enter their neighborhood during peak traffic without rearranging the neighborhood's layout. Ott said he worries about elderly or new drivers who have to face Providence traffic without a light.

The project would receive $997,500 through the city's capital improvement program, which has been updated as part of City Manager Mike Matthes' proposed budget for fiscal 2012. The project was initially proposed and approved in 2005. It has since remained in the design and planning stage, said Public Works Department spokeswoman Jill Stedem.

“Designs have been the biggest hang-up because there are different perceptions of what needs to be done at that intersection,” she said.

The proposed design of a traffic light at Burnam and Providence would allow residents to make left turns into and out of the neighborhood. This light would prohibit left turns at other neighborhood intersections with Providence, such as Bingham Road. Many Grasslands residents work north of the intersection, and the limited ability to turn left might inconveniently funnel traffic to Burnam, Ott said.

Turner Avenue's intersection with Providence has been mentioned as another possible location for a traffic light.

City staff and Grasslands residents will continue to meet and discuss possible solutions. When designs are complete, the project will proceed to a public hearing. Construction is slated for 2013.

“We want to do the project right the first time,” Stedem said.

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