Downtown Leadership Council supports Providence Road streetscape improvements

Wednesday, February 15, 2012 | 9:43 p.m. CST; updated 12:29 p.m. CST, Thursday, February 16, 2012

*The Columbia Housing Authority and other community groups are considering establishing an African-American heritage trail that would start along Providence Road. An earlier version of this story misstated the Columbia Housing Authority's role in the proposal.

COLUMBIA — The Downtown Leadership Council wrote a letter of support for the Columbia Housing Authority’s plans for streetscape improvements along Providence Road. The letter was presented to the City Council at its Feb. 6 meeting.

"The goal is to try to beautify the entrances into downtown as well as make overall improvements to the downtown area," said Phil Steinhaus, director of the Columbia Housing Authority, adding that this work should be done "in a planned and community-acceptable way, so you start getting some continuity throughout the whole area."


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Steinhaus said the improvements are also intended to improve the safety of pedestrians in that area.

He gave a presentation at the leadership council's general board meeting in December, where members realized how similar the Providence streetscape proposal is to the Charrette Report, which calls for improvements to College Avenue.

Steinhaus said the Providence Road streetscape plan calls for a few specific changes:

  •  The green fence by Douglass High School would come down and a new landscaped sidewalk will be put in.
  • The pedestrian overpass that crosses Providence Road to connect the J.W. "Blind" Boone Community Center to Douglass High School would be taken down.
  • A pedestrian-activated traffic signal would be put in at a newly-constructed median on Providence Road between Douglass High School and the Columbia Housing Authority's family townhomes.
  •  Further landscaping would be installed along Providence Road.

The plan also might include a memorial for Beulah Ralph, an advocate for equality in Columbia Public Schools. She worked for the district for 58 years and died in 2010 at age 83.

*In addition, the Columbia Housing Authority and community groups might create an "African-American heritage trail" starting along Providence Road.

The Leadership Council said it strongly supports the Columbia Housing Authority's plan.

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Richard Saunders February 16, 2012 | 1:21 p.m.

Am I correct that this new design blocks access to Park from southbound Providence traffic? If so, then this design is completely idiotic, as it further limits access to downtown (not to mention the school itself), which will create bottlenecks at other places that may not be designed to handle the increased traffic load.

I'm so glad all these public entities are so cash-flush that they can waste money on "beautification" schemes, while the rest of us have to wonder how we can afford it.

I'll point out that most of this beautification project is nothing but tearing down their previous attempt. Something that would never go over in the real world.

The pretend world though? Well, it will not be denied, it seems.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith February 16, 2012 | 2:28 p.m.

"Reeling and writhing, of course, to begin with," the Mock Turtle replied; "and then the different branches of arithmetic - Ambition, Distraction, Uglification and Derision."

"I never heard of uglification," Alice ventured to say. "What is it?"

The Gryphon lifted up both of its paws in surprise. "Never heard of uglifying!" it exclaimed. "You know what to beautify is, I suppose?"

"Yes," said Alice doubtfully: "it means -to-make-anything-prettier."

"Well then," the Gryphon went on, "if you don't know what to uglify is, you are a simpleton."

[What we really need in Columbia, Missouri is more uglification. :)]

(Report Comment)
Thomas Nagel February 16, 2012 | 3:09 p.m.

Where are the Bike Lanes?

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro February 16, 2012 | 3:38 p.m.

Personally, I'd call the entire stretch of Providence "blighted" and put it entirely underground.
Then we could plant trees above the tunnel and call it protected green space.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin February 16, 2012 | 4:01 p.m.

About time. Are there giant fences around any other high school in town?

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 16, 2012 | 4:20 p.m.

Hickman High is about 3/4ths ringed with fence.

For the record, I think that zig-zag crossing is just about *THE* stupidest idea I've seen in quite some time. Has the moron that designed this ever watched anyone cross Providence in that area? If it's not STRAIGHT across the road, it won't be any more successful than the bridge.

If this is going to be done, make the crossing straight across. Straight. STRAIGHT! Got that?

(Report Comment)
Laura D'Angelo February 16, 2012 | 4:42 p.m.

Hi Readers! My name is Laura D'Angelo, and I am the reporter on this piece. I wanted to let you know that after looking at the diagram, it does appear that the design will block access to Park Avenue for southbound traffic on Providence. I am in the process of following up on this question. Also, I am seeking a cost breakdown of the entire project.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin February 16, 2012 | 6:47 p.m.

"Hickman High is about 3/4ths ringed with fence."

Not like Douglass, which is ringed with fence like a big prison.

(Report Comment)
Derrick Fogle February 16, 2012 | 7:02 p.m.

"Douglass, which is ... fence(d) like a big prison."

True, and considering it's the "troubled youth" school, that's no accident.

(Report Comment)
Laura D'Angelo February 17, 2012 | 2:36 p.m.

Hi again readers! I am Laura D'Angelo, the reporter on this piece, and as promised, I have some answers for you provided from follow-up interviews with Phil Steinhaus and Ted Curtis. If you look closer at the diagram, persons driving south on Providence will be able to turn left onto Park Ave heading east. Persons driving north on Providence will be able to turn left onto Park Ave. heading west. There is a middle turn lane that starts where the pedestrian island ends.

Note also that there is a small raised island in the intersection of Park and Providence that will prevent drivers on Park Ave. form turning left across traffic, from either direction. This design was developed because of frequent accidents at this intersection resulting from people crossing two lanes of on-coming traffic.

Drivers heading north on Providence will not be able to turn left onto Switzler Street because of a raised median, but the median will be constructed low enough so that emergency vehicles may turn left on Switzler if need be.

As for the cost breakdown, funding for the island comes from the Get About Columbia Non-Motorized Transportation grant. The Columbia Housing Authority is paying for their own landscaping. Pednet is paying for the landscaping at Douglass High School with fund from a community health grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health.

(Report Comment)

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