Boone County native Tom Bass may have road named in his honor

Monday, April 15, 2013 | 7:48 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — The former southbound lanes of U.S. 63 may be renamed Tom Bass Road, after the Boone County native.

“Mr. Bass has historical significance in the area,” said Stan Shawver, Boone County Resource Management Director. “His family were some of the original settlers.”

Chosen by the Boone County Commission, the new road name will honor the internationally recognized horse rider and trainer who was born in 1859 close to where the road is now located.

A former slave, Bass was one of the first black athletes to gain international fame. He also invented the Tom Bass Bit, designed to protect a horse’s mouth during training. The bit continues to be used today.

After the Missouri Department of Transportation built two new southbound lanes for a section of U.S. 63 last year, the former southbound lanes became an outer road.

The 25 or so properties along that outer road no longer have accurate addresses, since they are now not considered to be located on U.S. 63, Shawver said.

The section of the road that will be renamed stretches from the north end of the Magellan Pipeline and to the Route H interchange near the Columbia Regional Airport turnoff, he said.

Property owners have been notified of the proposed name change.

MoDOT was calling the outer road Highway 163, but the name was problematic.

“Highway 163 is mainly east and west, and this one is north and south,” said Gale Blomenkamp, Boone County Fire Protection District Division Chief. “We’re glad it’s not to be called Highway 163 because that’s where things can get confusing for emergency responders.”

With a new distinct name, it will be easier for fire and emergency responders to do their jobs, he said. No problems with emergency response have been experienced thus far.

“We were always a proponent of the road name change,” Blomenkamp said. “We’re glad they’re changing it.”

Of the properties that will have a change in address, about six are businesses or commercial locations, Shawver said. Among these are Boone County Fire Protection District’s Station 15, Magellan Pipeline Co., a Boone County Public Works facility and Bob’s Fireworks’ Deer Park location.

“I don’t know any other side roads that are named after people, but it won’t affect me in any way,” said Bob Gerau, owner of Bob’s Fireworks. “It may help our business or hinder it. I don’t know at this time. Traffic is still traffic out there.”

A public meeting is planned for 7 p.m. April 30 to see if the name is suitable; residents can respond with questions or comments.

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