Construction traffic irritates north-siders

Wednesday, September 17, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 10:41 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Lake of the Woods residents are angry.

Dump trucks and machinery from nearby Eastport Gardens and Eastport Village are damaging roads in a North Grace Lane subdivision that were not meant to carry heavy traffic, residents say.

The developments eventually will include 63 single-family homes and 70 duplexes.

“There is no infrastructure for new development,” Lake of the Woods Neighborhood Association President Jack Donelon said. “Common sense says to put in streets and sewer lines first. Seems here in Columbia they always do things backwards.”

North Grace Lane, the only entrance and exit to Lake of the Woods, and Teton Drive, which abuts the property being developed, bear the brunt of the traffic as trucks leave the construction area on Teton Drive and access St. Charles Road from North Grace Lane.

Lake of the Woods South, the development group, told the neighborhood association before construction began that it would make a concerted effort to keep heavy vehicles off their roads. Donelon, however, said the problem continues even after the developer and project manager said it would stop.

It has been difficult to remedy the situation because the development property and the part of North Grace Lane north of Rocky Mountain Avenue have been annexed by the city, but the subdivision remains in the county. Donelon said the city and county fail to work together when dealing with partially annexed streets and areas.

Donelon and other members of the association have pushed not only the developer but also the Boone County Commission and city officials to address the problem.

“All I’ve gotten is lip service,” Donelon said. “Nothing’s being done.”

Tom Mendenhall, the developer, disputed the extent of the problem, saying few trucks are traveling through the neighborhood. Trucks use the neighborhood streets rather than service roads only during extenuating circumstances, such as accidents on Interstate 70 that cause traffic to be rerouted onto St. Charles Road, he said.

“The amount has been minuscule and mostly during working hours when it doesn’t affect anybody,” Mendenhall said.

Mendenhall said he has talked with the contractor, Emery Sapp and Sons, about the problem.

“You just can’t control everybody,” he said.

Emery Sapp and Sons project manager Ed Calvert said the company prohibits employees from driving through the subdivision.

“People are crying because of the development taking place in the area,” Calvert said.

On one afternoon, trucks rumbled through Lake of the Woods only a few minutes before a school bus dropped children off, Donelon said. David Flottman, who lives on Rocky Mountain Avenue, said that on another occasion three dump trucks lined up on North Grace Lane and obstructed traffic.

“They need to think twice about making the access point through subdivisions,” Flottman said.

Residents said much of the problem would be relieved by extending North Grace Lane south to Richland Road, as the developer and city officials discussed. The extension would give residents two outlets and another section of road for Eastport Gardens to use as an arterial street. Mendenhall, however, said it’s taken some time to obtain all the necessary permits for building the road.

“We’re going to do it as soon as permittable,” Mendenhall said. “You can’t do things unless you do them properly.”

Mendenhall said the Columbia City Council is scheduled on Nov. 3 to approve a final plat that includes the North Grace Lane extension. The extension, which will be paid for by the developer, will probably be complete early next year, Mendenhall said.

Boone County Northern District Commissioner Skip Elkin said the county has been dealing with the Lake of the Woods problem for a couple of months. He said that service roads need to be better used and that a sign needs to be placed at the top of North Grace Lane directing construction traffic to those service roads.

Mendenhall said the sign has been delayed because he is waiting on permits from the city.

Residents also worry about the speed of the additional traffic. During a county traffic study conducted in May, one vehicle was clocked driving 60 mph on Rocky Mountain Avenue, where the speed limit is 30 mph.

“It’s imperative for public safety that we have some kind of control on speeding,” Flottman said.

The county cannot put speed bumps or barricades on the roads because it interferes with snow removal in the winter, Donelon said.

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