COLUMBIA — Two projects intended to improve pedestrian safety are in the works on College and Garth avenues and will cost more than $1.1 million.
The city of Columbia and MU have partnered with the Missouri Department of Transportation to install a barrier down the middle of College Avenue from just north of Rosemary Lane to south of Bouchelle Avenue. The project also will include the creation of two crosswalks, according to a May 20 memo from Public Works Director John Glascock to the Columbia City Council.
The barrier is intended to prevent pedestrians from crossing the road at non-designated points.
View College Avenue pedestrian project in a larger map
A 2009 study commissioned by MU found that more than 7,500 pedestrians crossed College Avenue between University and Bouchelle avenues during a two-day period. Of those crossings, about 5,000 were at non-designated spots, while the other 2,500 were at the intersection of University and College avenues.
The study found that in addition to high pedestrian traffic, 19,500 cars travel through the area every day. This means that there are more than 13 cars and two or three pedestrians crossing the street every minute, on average.
The College Avenue project will cost an estimated $823,750, most of which will be funded by federal grants administered by MoDOT.
"It's a safety issue with pedestrians getting out in the median," MoDOT spokesman Dion Knipp said. "That's our road, and there's a safety concern there."
As part of a cost-share program, MoDOT will pay for 80 percent of the project up to a maximum of $659,000, Knipp said. That money will come from a federal transportation improvement grant that requires the local government to cover the other 20 percent of the cost.
Glascock wrote in his memo that MU and city officials have agreed to split the 20 percent local cost and will pay up to $82,375 each. However, there is no guarantee that the project will require that they spend the maximum amount, Knipp said.
"We're looking at options, but we don't know what type of barrier it will be," Knipp said.
The next step is for the project managers to hire a consultant.
College Avenue is a main thoroughfare in Columbia and separates popular student housing neighborhoods from the MU campus. According to the MU study, there were nine pedestrian injury accidents on the section of College Avenue between University Avenue and Rollins Street from October 2009 to June 2012.
Karlan Seville, spokeswoman for MU Campus Facilities, said her department commissioned the study.
"We want MU students to be able to cross College Avenue safely. That's why it came about," she said.
The MU study cited a lack of funding as the reason for the delay in addressing the street's safety issues.
MU studied pedestrian safety on College Avenue.
Garth Avenue to have new sidewalk, pedestrian-activated light
Alice Edwards was involved in an accident at the corner of Garth Avenue and Parkade Boulevard in 1999. She said she still has nightmares about the street.
Although she suffered no serious injuries in the accident, Edwards said it left her with memories.
City officials plan to tap the same federal program through MoDOT to address the concerns about traffic on Garth near the school. The state would contribute up to $234,880 in federal grant money, according to Glascock's memo.
The total cost is estimated at $293,600 and is subject to the 80 percent-20 percent cost-share program. The city will pay up to $58,720.
Parkade Elementary School's proximity to the intersection is a key reason the project has been slated for attention. It includes the installation of a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the east side of Garth from Parkade Boulevard to Leslie Lane as well as a pedestrian-activated light at the intersection of Garth and Parkade, according to Glascock's memo.
View Garth Avenue and Parkade Boulevard in a larger map
Edwards worked as an aide at Parkade Elementary from 1999 to 2002. Although she doesn't live in the area, she often drives there from her home in south Columbia because she enjoys the scenery.
"Somebody's gonna get hurt, either the kids or the crossing guard," she said. "I don't want to see that."
Both projects are subject to the approval of the City Council, which is scheduled to take a final vote on an ordinance authorizing the work at its June 3 meeting. Currently, there is no timeline for either project.
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