Hinkson Creek pedestrian bridge tops list of new GetAbout projects

Monday, March 26, 2012 | 5:39 p.m. CDT; updated 6:22 p.m. CDT, Monday, March 26, 2012
The city of Columbia was awarded a $5.9 million federal grant in 2011 to encourage bicyclers and pedestrians. Initially, 15 projects were proposed, and the first five were approved Monday night. Construction costs are always subject to change, but these totals represent the most updated estimates. The first five projects total approximately $2.2 million. The Columbia City Council has not approved the entire budget and will discuss further how to spend the remaining funds.

COLUMBIA — A pedestrian bridge across Hinkson Creek at Forum Boulevard will be among the first five projects financed with an additional $5.9 million for the GetAbout Columbia initiative for bicycling and walking.

Last fall, the Parks and Recreation Department, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission and the GetAbout Executive Advisory Committee compiled a list of possible projects for the additional federal funds that add up to substantially more than $5.9 million. The pedestrian bridge, estimated to cost $881,000, is a new addition to the list of priority projects created last fall.

Trail connector project

Construction began Monday morning on the Stadium MKT Trail Connector, funded by the original GetAbout Columbia grant. The pedestrian and bicycle tunnel under Stadium Boulevard, between West Boulevard and Carrie Francke Drive, will be closed temporarily.

The result of construction will be a connection from the Stadium Boulevard bicycle lanes to the underpass and upgrades to the tunnel. The upgrades will attempt to eliminate the water and gravel that collect under the bridge and add lighting to meet ADA requirements.

Pedestrians and bicyclists are recommended to use different trails and motorists are advised to drive with caution between West Boulevard and Carrie Francke Drive — and to be alert for those who may be crossing Stadium Boulevard — until the project is completed.

Completion is expected by the end of April.

Source: Public Works Department Press Release

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Building a separate bridge for bicycles and pedestrians will free up the existing shoulder on Forum Boulevard to create room for a turn lane into Wilson's Fitness that's part of a road project to relieve traffic congestion.

A bicycle boulevard connecting the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail west of Providence Road to Business Loop 70 near Parkade Plaza and three sidewalk projects complete the list of $2.1 million in new GetAbout projects approved by the City Council, according to city documents.

The five projects were approved by the council at their March 19 meeting.

The $5.9 million from the Federal Highway Administration was awarded in July to Columbia. Four other city governments from around the country also received funding for pilot projects under the original grants, which were about $22.5 million each.

Proposed spending that is awaiting approval includes $430,000 for promotion and education, plus $150,000 for bike lockers in city parking garages and demonstration projects such as a bike share pilot program similar to the one PedNet unveiled at True/False.

Ian Thomas, executive director of PedNet Coalition, said it's important to combine outreach and information with the actual projects. 

Some projects financed with the original grant remain ongoing and are expected to be finished by the end of 2013, said Jill Stedem, spokeswoman for the Public Works Department.

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