MoDOT stands by recommendations for Providence Road construction plans

Tuesday, July 2, 2013 | 5:46 p.m. CDT; updated 8:53 a.m. CDT, Wednesday, July 3, 2013
A car waits to turn left from Burnam Road onto Providence Road while another car waits to turn left off of Providence Road onto Burnam Avenue on Monday. The Missouri Department of Transportation will remove the stoplight from the Rollins and Providence intersection and put two stoplights at the Turner Avenue and Burnam Road and Avenue intersections on Providence.

COLUMBIA — The Missouri Department of Transportation plans to stick to its plans to restrict traffic movements onto and off Providence Road from two Grasslands neighborhood streets.

The restrictions were not part of a plan approved by the Columbia City Council on June 3 that is intended to address congestion on Providence and to improve traffic flow through the Grasslands. But Mike Schupp, area engineer for the Transportation Department, said Friday that he has emailed Public Works Director John Glascock about the agency's plans.

MoDOT is standing by requirements that district engineer David Silvester listed in a May 23 letter to Glascock.

"We have two goals with any construction on Providence Road: We want to increase safety and make traveling efficiency better, or at least not worse than it is today," Schupp said.

Silvester's letter said the Transportation Department would:

  • Allow only right-in and right-out access to Brandon Road at its intersection with Providence. Allowing left turns into or out of the neighborhood would hinder northbound traffic on Providence, he wrote.
  • Prohibit left turns out of the Grasslands at Bingham's intersection with Providence because it's so close to a traffic signal that will be installed at Burnam Road. Silvester said the state might later have to prohibit left turns into the Grasslands at Bingham if it finds there are too many accidents at the intersection.

At its June 3 meeting, the Columbia City Council approved an amendment by Mayor Bob McDavid that omitted the traffic restrictions at Brandon and Bingham roads and a proposed widening of Birch Road. McDavid was trying to eliminate those parts of the project that many Grasslands residents opposed.

Rick Kaufmann, an engineering supervisor with the Public Works Department, said specific plans for the project are not yet in place.

"It should be noted that MoDOT would need to approve these changes and that has not happened, so we are still not certain what the intersections of Brandon and Bingham will end up being," Kaufmann said.

With the omission of the Birch Road widening, Kaufmann said, the project would cost about $200,000 less than the original estimate of $2.1 million. Other options considered by the council had price tags as high as $7 million.

The plan for Providence Road that was approved is a revised version of the proposal known as Option VIII-A. It includes:

  • Installing traffic lights on Providence Road at its intersections with Turner Avenue and Burnam Road and Burnam Avenue.
  • Removing the traffic signal at Providence Road and Rollins Street. 
  • Extending north the right turn lane onto Stadium Boulevard from Providence Road to Brandon Road.
  • Building a sidewalk on the south side of Burnam between Birch Road and Providence.
  • Converting Kentucky Boulevard's entrance to Providence to allow right turns and left turns onto Kentucky and right turns onto Providence.

Kaufmann noted that the Public Works Department will have to get council approval to buy the private property necessary to do the work. Only then will a consultant be able to finish the design work. The council then will solicit bids on the project.

The changes will affect traffic flow into and out of MU. Karlan Seville, spokeswoman for MU Campus Facilities, said MU had supported another construction plan known as Option IX, which is similar to VIII-A and also included new traffic signals at Burnam Avenue and Turner Avenue intersections with Providence.

"The safety of our students, faculty and staff is always a priority," said Seville, referring to Option IX. "An additional stoplight will improve traffic flow, and not allowing left-hand turns will be safer for both pedestrians and motorists."

MU student Jeremy Wrinkle of 605 S. Fifth St. said he doesn't think a light on Turner Avenue would make his commute easier because it might take longer to make a left turn off Providence Road.

"If you take that turn a lot it will make your commute more difficult," Wrinkle said.

Gunnar Johanson, who lives near Fifth and Turner, thinks the signal at Turner and Providence would be beneficial. As it stands, he says, he typically accesses Providence from Stewart Road to the north because it has a signal.

The map below shows the City Council's approved changes and MoDOT's planned changes to Providence Road near the Grasslands neighborhood.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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