Barriers among options for College Avenue safety project

Monday, February 24, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CST; updated 10:30 p.m. CST, Monday, February 24, 2014
The City of Columbia is planning to release a safety plan regarding pedestrian crossing on College Avenue. Many of the foot traffic comes from pedestrians walking between the East Campus neighborhood and MU.

COLUMBIA — The game students have called "Frogger" will soon get a new set of rules.

Two top-rated draft plans call for a barrier down the middle of College Avenue between Rollins Street and University Avenue designed to funnel foot traffic to two crosswalks.


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Those options are among eight plans for improving safety on a stretch of College Avenue that saw 20 accidents involving pedestrians and motorists from 2005 to 2012.

The public can review the plans and offer input from 4 to 7 p.m. Tuesday in the mezzanine conference room at the Daniel Boone City Building. The draft plans can be found on the project's website.

The preferred alternatives, called "A" and "B," both include vertical barriers and two crosswalks: one between Wilson Avenue and Rosemary Lane, and the other between Wilson Avenue and Bouchelle Avenue.

Plan A's vertical barrier would be a wall with a wrought-iron fence on top in an attempt to match the aesthetic of MU's "White Campus," according to the project plans. Plan B's barrier is a wrought-iron fence sitting on a raised median.

The design team thought a vertical barrier was the best way to prevent pedestrians from jaywalking and increase safety on the five-lane street, Mike Schupp, a representative for the Missouri Department of Transportation on design efforts, said.

“Most of the design team felt from past experience on similar projects that unless you put up some kind of physical barrier, people will find a way to get across it," Schupp said.

The two top-rated plans and three others would prevent left turns onto and out of Bouchelle Avenue, Rosemary Lane and Wilson Avenue. That would mean more use of the intersections at University Avenue and Rollins Street for East Campus residents. Three of the plans would allow left turns.

"If we open the left turn lane, it creates an additional crossing lane for pedestrians that wouldn't be regulated by H.A.W.K. signals," Columbia Public Works spokesman Steve Sapp said.

The signals Sapp refers to are High-Intensity Activated Crosswalks, otherwise known as H.A.W.K. signals. The crosswalks use a pedestrian-pushed button like conventional crosswalks, but instead of using red, yellow and green lights to control traffic, they use a combination of solid and flashing red and yellow lights to warn motorists about pedestrians. Each plan, except for one, features the same two H.A.W.K. signals.

Every day, hundreds of students who live on East Campus and houses on fraternity row cross College Avenue between Rollins Street and University Avenue without a crosswalk. Almost 19,000 cars travel daily down the same stretch.

The crossing often involves walking across two lanes of traffic, pausing in the turn lane that runs down the middle of the road and waiting for an opening in traffic to make it to the other side.

Other draft plans for the project include a raised median in the middle of College Avenue to give pedestrians a safe haven while crossing the street; one includes only the two mid-block crosswalks. Another plan features a stoplight and three crosswalks at Wilson Avenue.

The plans being displayed Tuesday are just suggestions and could change based on public feedback, Sapp said.

“We're in the discussion phase still. We're trying to find out how we're going to enhance safety but accommodate the interests of those that live and use the corridor,” Sapp said.

A design team rated the plans using 10 criteria on a low, medium and high scale and then converted those ratings to numerical values in order to judge them against each other, Cliff Jarvis, capital improvement projects supervising engineer for the city, said. The specific ratings and criteria are available with the details of each plan on the project's website.

After the public input meeting, the designers will make adjustments to the plans based on public feedback and present the final proposed design to the public and Columbia City Council, Jarvis said.

Supervising editor is John Schneller.

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Eric Cox February 24, 2014 | 7:35 a.m.

Or the police could just ticket them instead of spending tax money.

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