Columbia residents split on Forum Boulevard trail plans

Thursday, January 23, 2014 | 9:40 p.m. CST; updated 10:05 p.m. CST, Thursday, January 23, 2014
This map shows the two proposed trails along Forum Boulevard. The project is expected to ease traffic congestion by moving pedestrians and bikes off of the road.

COLUMBIA  — Columbia's Public Works Department presented two possible plans for a trail near Forum Boulevard at an open house Thursday, and attendees seemed evenly split between them.

Both of the trails would branch off the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail, stretch 0.67 mile and include a pedestrian bridge over Hinkson Creek. Either plan would cost an estimated $1 million.

One of the plans shows the trail running along the eastern side of Forum Boulevard from Victoria Park to Woodrail Avenue. The other plan shows the trail running along the western side of Forum Boulevard and through the Forum Nature Area to Woodrail Avenue.

At least 15 people attended the open house.

"We're still half and half," said Cliff Jarvis, the engineering supervisor for Columbia's Public Works Department. He said seasoned bicyclists and homeowners seemed to like the trail on the eastern side of Forum Boulevard, and recreational bicyclists liked the trail on the western side. 

"It would be nice to get to the (MKT) trail or to Wilson's (Fitness) without getting to walk on Forum," Linda Calvert said. She said her top priority is people's safety, and she was happy a project like this was coming together.

Kim Schwartzkopf said he thinks the option that runs through the Forum Nature Area is safer because it gets people off the road.

Engineers will choose which plan gets developed, but they will factor in the public's opinion, Jarvis said.

"The public's decision weighs just as heavily as the engineering decisions," hesaid, "but the hard thing to do is convince people of our decision and that the solution we chose was the best."

Jarvis expects construction to start in 2015, possibly in the summer, and it should be completed by the end of 2015. 

Supervising editor is Adam Aton.

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