Construction on Walnut Street begins Wednesday

Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | 6:46 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Starting Wednesday, the section of Walnut Street between William Street and Old Highway 63 will be closed from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays for sidewalk construction. Boone Construction is expected to complete the sidewalk by mid-November.

The sidewalk, which will cost about $230,000, is being funded by a $22 million grant from the Federal Highway Administration’s Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Program, said Ted Curtis, manager of GetAbout Columbia, which makes recommendations to the City Council on how the grant money should be allocated. Columbia was among four communities in the U.S. to receive funding from the program.

The purpose of the program is to "demonstrate the extent to which bicycling and walking can carry a significant part of the transportation load," according to the Federal Highway Administration's website.

“The goal is to get as many people as possible out of cars and onto bicycles or walking,” Curtis said. “Our ultimate goal is to help reduce traffic congestion.”

The Walnut Street sidewalk is being built in part because of the area’s proximity to Stephens Lake Park, Curtis said.

"Right now there's no easily walkable way to get to Stephens Lake Park along Walnut," Curtis said.

It is also being built because of high pedestrian traffic in the area, Curtis said.

“If you look at the area there’s a walking path where people have been walking for a long time in the grassy area,” Curtis said. “This shows it’s a high pedestrian area but there’s no sidewalk to serve those needs.”

A total of 28 projects have either been completed, are in progress, or are being planned by the GetAbout Columbia program, all of which should be completed by 2013.

The Columbia Public Works Department will receive another $5.1 million from the Federal Highway Administration by 2013.

West Park Lane will also be closed to traffic between 500 and 560 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on September 26 and 27 for culvert pipe replacement, according to a Boone County Resource Management release.

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