COLUMBIA — Route Z improvements could increase capacity along the road and improve safety.
"I think it will provide significant improvement to the area," Mike Dusenberg, project manager for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said.
MoDOT held an open house Wednesday evening, where it displayed plans for the proposed project that would provide roadway and bridge improvements to Route Z in Boone County.
The project involves replacing the interchange bridge on Route Z crossing I-70, which would be widened by approximately three feet on both sides. The plans also include constructing a new roundabout at the intersection of Route Z and St. Charles Road and improving Route Z from St. Charles Road to I-70 by resurfacing and adding three-foot-wide, hard-surface shoulders and rumble strips.
The project was developed on the premise of predicted traffic increases caused by the opening next August of the new Muriel Williams Battle High School on St. Charles Road.
Boone County Presiding Commissioner Dan Atwill said he hopes the project will alleviate safety concerns, such as increased traffic and the ability to exit I-70 at Route Z.
Atwill said he does not know if this is the perfect solution because it is unknown how much traffic will increase. He said he does not believe there will be any confusion or concern about the project because it was well-planned and will be a major improvement for traffic around the new high school.
Columbia residents were invited to provide feedback after viewing the project plans. Dusenberg said he hopes this feedback will be positive, but if the plans need to be tweaked, the department will do that.
"I've received very positive feedback from property owners in the area," he said. "I haven't heard any negative comments."
Raymond Sapp lives along Route Z and said he believes the road needs to be improved.
"Route Z is not that good of a highway widthwise," Sapp said. "If they increase it, it will make a big difference on that highway."
Mickey Winingar, who lives on East Karen Avenue close to Route Z, said she had some concerns with the project.
"I'm not sure I like the roundabout being that close or the road being that far into my yard," she said. "However, that road does need something. Road traffic is a concern."
Winingar said she was not sure the project would alleviate traffic around the new Battle High School.
Winingar's daughter, Andrea, was also at the open house Wednesday and expressed similar concerns.
She said she worries that people will use Karen Avenue to bypass the roundabout.
"It's concerning," she said. "I have small children and I can't let them play in the yard as it is. I don't like it that close to where my children play."
The project is estimated to cost a total of $2.3 million and will be funded through a cost-share agreement between Boone County and MoDOT. Boone County will fund approximately 33 percent of the project's costs, while the transportation department will fund the remaining 67 percent.
"This is a good example of how government entities can identify a need that comes up and work together to fix it," Dusenberg said.
Dusenberg said he believes the project will go smoothly and should be completed on time. He said the contract will go to bid in February, construction will begin in March and the project is anticipated to be complete in August before the high school opens.
Information on the project can be found on the transportation department's website.
Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.