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Public Works Department takes public comment on Grasslands project

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 | 9:16 p.m. CDT; updated 7:26 a.m. CDT, Thursday, March 21, 2013

COLUMBIA — The Columbia Public Works Department presented 10 options for the Grasslands-Providence Road project to the public at an interested parties open house Wednesday night.

The Columbia City Council will hold a hearing on rescinding the current $6.6 million plan in April, at which point the Public Works Department will present the public comments gathered Wednesday night.

The open house gave residents an opportunity to look at each plan and ask questions of Public Works department employees before submitting their comments.

The options were the same ones that have been presented to residents in interested parties meetings in 2008 and 2010, Public Works spokesman Steven Sapp said.

Many of the proposed plans include improvements to Birch Road, which runs between Bingham and Burnam roads. By improving Birch Road, city officials think that the creation of new roads in the Grasslands Neighborhood and the demolition of homes could be avoidedThe improvements would include the addition of sidewalks and the widening of the road. 

While many residents had previously opposed the addition of a median on Providence Road, city engineer Rick Kauffmann said it was included in many of the plans because the Missouri Department of Transportation would likely require one if any changes were made to Providence Road.

The intersection of Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard is the busiest one in Columbia. It handles an average of 81,500 vehicles a day, making improvements to alleviate traffic important, Sapp said.

The 10 options and their prices were presented to the residents

  • Option 1: Connect Rollins Road to Clarkson Road, which would include a median on Providence Road and improvements to Birch Road. This would cost $2.6 million.
  • Option 2: Construct a new road connecting Turner Avenue to Clarkson Road, which would include a median on Providence Road and improvements to Birch Road. This would cost $2.8 million.
  • Option 3: Rollins Road connects to Burnam Road, which would include a median on Providence Road and improvements to Birch Road. This would cost $1.3 million.
  • Option 4: Connect Garth Avenue to Clarkson Road, which would include improvements to Birch Road. This would cost $2.2 million. 
  • Option 5: Connect Carrie Franke Boulevard to either LaGrange Court or Brandon Road, which would include improvements to Birch Road. The connection to LaGrange Court would cost $1.6 million, while the Brandon Road connection would cost $1.5 million.
  • Option 6: Install a traffic signal at the corner of Providence and Burnam roads, which would include a median on Providence Road and improvements to Birch Road. This would cost $1.5 million.
  • Option 7: Install traffic signals at the corners of Providence and Rollins roads, and Providence and Burnam roads, which would include a median on Providence Road and improvements to Birch Road. This would cost $1.5 million.
  • Option 8:Install traffic signals at the corners of Providence Road and Turner Avenue and Providence and Burnam roads,which would include a median on Providence Road and improvements to Birch Road. This would cost $1.6 million.
  • Option 9: This is the current plan that has been passed by the City Council. The first phase would add a road between Bingham and Burnam roads and signals at the corners of Providence Road and Turner Avenue and Providence and Burnam roads. The second phase would include the addition of a median on Providence Road, another road constructed between Brandon and Bingham roads, and the extension of the right-turn lane on Providence Road to Stadium Boulevard. These two phases would cost a total of $6.6 million.
  • Option 10: Do nothing. This plan would still require a right-turn lane to be added to Brandon Road and would cost $250,000.

Grasslands resident Karen King lives on Birch Road. She said she is concerned with the increase in traffic the improvements would cause, especially with her young children.

After speaking with officials at the meeting, she said she supports Option 9, the one already passed by the City Council, because it is inevitable. 

"It seems like MoDOT will come in and make that extension (on Providence Road) happen anyhow," she said.

Several residents at the meeting said they now support the current plan because the city's growth will eventually require the widening of Providence Road despite their preferences.

Susan Melton has lived in the Grasslands for 12 years. Pedestrian safety has been her main concern, and she first thought that installing only a light was the best option. After the meeting, she thinks she supports the current plan.

"I now think maybe it's a better approach," she said.

Grasslands resident Jim Cogswell said that he favored Option 8 because it includes traffic lights to control traffic and didn't cost too much. He said his main concern was pedestrian safety on Providence Road.

"You're taking your life into your hands trying to (cross) it," he said.

Supervising editor is Zach Murdock.


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