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Open house set for Thursday to discuss new I-70 interchange

Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | 7:52 p.m. CDT
Columbia is seeking input on the newly proposed interchange on Interstate 70 west of Stadium Boulevard and extending to Scott Boulevard. The city says the project will reduce the number of accidents and alleviate traffic in the area. The preferred alternative is shown below.

COLUMBIA — Brown. Green. Orange. Yellow. 

Each color represents a proposed option for alleviating the traffic congestion that has clogged Stadium Boulevard.

If you go

 What: Four proposed road plans for Interstate 70

When: 4 to 7 p.m., Thursday

Where: Activity and Recreation Center,  1701 W. Ash St.

 

4 to 7 pm., Thursday,

 



"You can see what's happened to growth and the road networks," Columbia Public Works spokesman Steve Sapp said. "So this interchange is much needed and will have a high impact on how traffic flows from one side of the town to the other."

A final environmental assessment that outlines four proposed road plans has been released, and the public is invited to view the brown, yellow, orange and green routes from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Activity and Recreation Center.

The yellow route was recommended by the consulting firm that was put forth after public input.

"There has been a tremendous amount of public input in this process," Sapp said. 

The design would take about five years to complete. The approximately $68 million for the design and the implementation has not been raised, so there is no timeline for the rest of the project yet.

When the project is completed, the yellow route would extend Scott Boulevard 1.6 miles north across Interstate 70 to Route E, the shortest length among the plans for an extension. 

This route would be able to accommodate about 28,000 vehicles on an average day, according to the assessment. In 2009, more than 33,00o vehicles were on Stadium Boulevard just south of I-70 in one day, according to a traffic count. 

It would include the relocation of 11 homes and the displacement of nine commercial and industrial facilities. 

"Those lie within the footprint of the project," Sapp said. "What would be done with those are questions that still have to be answered."

Part of the reason for Thursday's meeting is to get public input on how to avoid displacing and relocating these buildings.

With the new route, commuter traffic on Stadium should decrease as well as the number of accidents, according to the assessment. There were 199 accidents on the one-mile stretch of Stadium Boulevard between I-70 and West Broadway from 2005 to 2009. About 45 percent of these accidents occurred between 5 and 6 p.m. during the evening rush.

"That's a lot of crashes on a single mile of roadway," Sapp said. "It's because there is so much traffic on that roadway and so many intersections at that roadway."

Rear-end collisions accounted for about 90 percent of the crashes. 

"They can be frustrated from sitting there, or traffic can come to a sudden stop," Sapp said. 

This could also help other aspects of public safety. Sapp, who worked for the Columbia Fire Department for 22 years, said a fire station location study recommended that a fire station be built near Stadium Boulevard at I-70 to serve the city's west side. 

"But it's so congested up there, how would they get in and out," Sapp asked. He said a new interchange might alleviate congestion enough for a new station to be built in the area or might provide new locations for one to be built. 

"The data shows the call volume is high enough to support the construction of the fire station," Sapp said. "But the road network really doesn't support it at this point."  

The project is in the second of five phases, with the principal agency being the City of Columbia that dates to 2001. The next phase will be the initial design studies, then the right of way acquisition and then the final design.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.


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