The long-planned eastward extension of Stadium Boulevard to Interstate 70 has not been abandoned. Rather, the Columbia Area Transportation Study Organization wants to make the project a priority.
On Thursday, the transportation planning group voted to develop a “purpose and need” statement for the Missouri Department of Transportation that indicates how the road would be used. As proposed, the extension would run from the east end of Stadium to the Lake of the Woods interchange.
CATSO is a group of city, county and state officials who plan for and recommend action on local transportation projects. Group members worry that construction of a new sewer line along the North Fork of Grindstone Creek will bring development ahead of the Stadium extension and compromise efforts to build the new highway. The new roadway would likely run parallel to the sewer line.
“The development pace is changing, and we’re going to see more subdivisions going up,” said Roy Dudark, city planning director. “We’ve got a window that’s going to close on us. We have to move with some sort of speed if we’re going to preserve a corridor in the area.”
City Manager Ray Beck said it’s important to get ahead of new home construction so that residents aren’t forced to relocate.
“We’re going to be right back in this room with these neighborhoods complaining about a road,” Beck said.
The group’s Major Roadway Plan has included an extension of Stadium Boulevard, also known as Highway 740, for nearly 35 years. Funding has been set aside for the project twice, first as part of the failed 15-year plan of the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission and most recently in 2002 as one of many projects statewide that would have been funded by Proposition B, a proposed gas-tax increase that failed at the polls.
The group’s actions Thursday show it hopes to get the project back on the fast track, although it’s unclear who will pay for the necessary studies.