Interstate 70 ran right through Gentry Middle School library Thursday night.
At an Improve I-70 Advisory Group meeting in the school’s library, three maps were presented that displayed alternate plans for access roads in Columbia along a six-mile stretch of the interstate. The meeting offered advisory group members and interested residents a chance to discuss the options.
The engineering firm CH2M Hill presented data from a study it is conducting to determine the possible effects of different approaches the state is considering to widen the interstate. Federal funds for the project cannot be allotted until the study is completed.
Kevin Nichols, an engineer with CH2M Hill, presented the options for one-way frontage roads, two-way frontage roads and collector-distributor roads.
Bob Brendel, with the Missouri Department of Transportation, said the eventual design will likely involve a combination of the options.
The roads would provide access to the Interstate while continuing to separate the increasing volumes of traffic.
Thursday’s meeting allowed community members a visual preview of how widening I-70 could affect Columbia.
“We’re at a point where the alternatives are far enough along that we are able to see some of the footprints of the impact,” CH2M engineer Buddy Desai said.
Several residents and government officials voiced their opinions after hovering over the maps.
“I counted over 30 properties that would be affected by the two-way frontage roads,” said Craig Adams, a representative for the Parkade neighborhood. “From our standpoint at Parkade, the collector-distributor option would have less impact on our neighborhood.”
The collector-distributor option would create a six-mile stretch of road running parallel to I-70 on each side. The roads would have no stoplights, allowing traffic to travel at much higher speeds.
However, that option would allow only three points of access to and from I-70 from the roads.
The two-way frontage roads would allow more opportunities to access the interstate.
“In my opinion, it’s going to be better for businesses to have the two-way frontage roads,” said Bob Bechtold of Midway Travel Plaza.
Desai said the maps were just preliminary steps. He said the final setup will likely involve a variety of the different types of access roads, depending on a location’s needs.
The meeting focused on the six-mile strip of Columbia that encompasses six interchanges as well as numerous business, neighborhoods and other points of interest, including Cosmopolitan Park.
The group will hold a public drop-in session on Nov. 4 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the Days Inn Conference Room. The public is encouraged to attend, view the maps and express opinions.