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Columbia Missourian

City Council candidates discuss street, sidewalk and trail needs

By Missourian staff
March 28, 2013 | 12:00 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Missourian reporters asked candidates for seats on the Columbia City Council nine standardized questions about city government issues. Here are their verbatim answers to a question about streets, sidewalks and trails. 

What do you believe are the city's greatest street, sidewalk and trail needs?

On The Watchword

You can find audio files of the City Council candidates' answers to the Missourian's questions on our local government blog, The Watchword.

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Mayoral candidates

Bob McDavid: "Well, we have a legacy of great trails, and the non-motorized transportation grant has been very helpful with that. And the previous mayor, Darwin Hindman, has a great legacy of advancing trails. It’s a wonderful part of the community. It’s our legacy. It, you know, it’s an all-star part of our parks system. Streets and sidewalks are ... always need repair, always need to grow with the population. You know, we’ve got $200 million of street and road improvements, and we get about $6 million a year, so you see that we’re challenged here. But we work with MoDOT, we work with the county, we work with the citizens to deal with these. We’re trying to catch up, but dealing with roads will always be a problem. It costs $160,000 to repave one mile of road, and our revenue from the capital improvement tax is about $6 million a year on top of the $10 million a year from the transportation tax, so it is a real challenge."

Sid Sullivan: "Well, it's really probably the greatest need right now is that intersection of Stadium and Providence. Providence is one of the busiest streets in Columbia, along with Stadium. And, just the way we route traffic, we're trying to keep it out of the neighborhoods, and we're keeping it in the main streets now, and we find we're putting a lot of pressure on that. So we really need to take a look at the entire traffic circulation system in the central area of the city. When you get out into the trails, the fitness trail, part of the Katy Trail, I think is a very attractive trail that many people use. We do have trails throughout the city that we have extended. Probably the sidewalk need that I see most is the one up by the Home Depot just north there on Clark Lane where you have a trailer park. And people actually have a destination where they can walk, and yet they have to walk in the street in 35- to 40-mile-an-hour traffic."

Third Ward candidates

Karl Skala: "Well, we have lots of street, sidewalk and trail needs. I mean, the city repair cycle is on a 47-year cycle, and it’s, according to surveys, is favored by about 70 percent of the citizens in terms of improving the roads. Now, during the time that I was on the City Council, between 2007 and 2010, was the last time in the Third Ward that we have had significant road and sidewalk improvements. We had the Mexico Gravel Road and roundabout improvement, and we had the east end Clark Lane improvement with the roundabout by The Links development. We also put in a new sidewalk, the East Walnut sidewalk, to connect it from Benton Stephens to Stephens Lake. So those are tangible improvements, and I think I have, again, a comprehensive idea as to how we can fund these road and sidewalk improvements in terms of the user-based approach that gets, that accomplishes what we want to accomplish based on the impact on the use structure of those roads and sidewalks."

Gary Kespohl: "I could think of two in my ward. One of them was ranked 14th on the list of priorities, it got moved to second on the list. That's Clark Lane, from, really from Home Depot all the way out to Ballenger. The other one...there's two more. The other one is Brown Station Road from, actually from the beginning of Brown Station Road up to the city limits. That's an old two-lane blacktop road. It used to be Route B years ago. But it has no sidewalks, and there's a lot of neighborhoods in there. And the third one would be Ballenger Lane from Clark Lane out to Mexico Gravel. (Missourian: And you want sidewalks put there?) I do. They're public safety hazards by not having a sidewalk there. People are walking along the side of a road that people travel 50 miles an hour on in a car. That's dangerous."

Fourth Ward candidates

Daryl Dudley: "The streets need to be such that people can drive on them. The sidewalks have to be where people can get to them and use them. Right now, we’re looking at Clark Lane, and getting that so that it’s safe for people and pedestrians in wheelchairs and on foot to walk up and down Clark Lane. That needs to be considered. We need to figure out how to keep the streets, and the infrastructure below it, in good shape and keep everything going as the city grows. We need to figure out where the money is going to come from. Every problem we’ve got, the biggest problem is money. I mean everything that we need to do takes money and time, so we need to figure out where we’re going to get the money from, and then a list of priorities, which we do in the CIP every year, to figure out how the priorities are and what needs to be done."

Ian Thomas: "I don’t really have a specific list of individual projects. Clearly there are, there’s a lot of discussion about Providence and Stadium. There’s a very significant project just starting on Stadium on the west side of town in front of the mall, and a new intersection. These are all symptoms of too many cars on the road at certain times of the day that the road system cannot handle. My approach to that in the long term is to look at the traffic demand management tool kit, which includes a lot of more low-impact interventions such as promotion of carpooling, improving the bus system and staggering commute times to address these problems."

Bill Weitkemper: "I read a citizen survey in 2011 that indicated that people were dissatisfied with roads, but I think they were misinformed in that survey because a single pothole can be noticed by many residents, whereas a single problem with a sewer line or water line or storm water lines, you don’t notice but the person who has the water back in their basement. So the first thing you need to do is fix the infrastructure under the road before you fix the roads. And I think there’d be money better spent doing that."

Missourian reporters Hannah Cushman, Elizabeth Pearl, Tony Puricelli, Madeline O'Leary, Chris Jasper, Allison Prang and Nuria Mathog contributed to this report.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

To hear audio clips from the candidates, go to the Missourian's local government blog, The Watchword.