Before city and state officials can even think about buying right of way for an extension of Stadium Boulevard, they’ll have to complete an environmental impact statement that could cost up to $1 million and take up to two years.
The problem is, no one knows yet where money for the study will come from or who will do the work.
The Technical Committee of the Columbia Area Transportation Study Organization at a meeting Wednesday discussed the need for an environmental impact statement, which would assess possible alignments for the highway extension. City officials since 1969 have yearned to extend Stadium from U.S. 63 to Interstate 70’s Lake of the Woods exit, but progress has eluded them.
The estimated cost of the environmental impact statement is between $800,000 and $1 million, said Roy Dudark, committee Chairman and City Planning Director.
No funding for the study has been secured, but many potential sources have been identified, said John Glascock, chief engineer for Columbia Public Works.
“There are a number of ways of funding this; it could come from MoDOT, the county or the city, or it could be federal funds,” Glascock said.
The environmental impact statement is a preliminary measure required by the National Environmental Policy Act in order to secure right of way for the extension, Glascock said. The study will determine the required width of the road, the type of surface to be used, plans for amenities such as bike lanes or sidewalks and the best alignment for the highway.
Specific plans for the impact statement have yet to be finished. “We won’t do detailed plans until we have funding for the construction,” Dudark said.
“We want to establish alignment and a corridor to make sure that no housing or anything else is built there,” Glascock said. “We’re trying to follow NEPA’s guidelines in case federal funding becomes available.”
Dudark said failure to complete an impact statement could jeopardize federal funding for actual construction of the highway, which remains years away.
“We hope to have the entire study done within the next 18 to 24 months,” Dudark said. “We don’t have a contract with anyone yet; we’ll need an engineering firm to help.”
In a draft “purpose and need statement” reviewed by the committee yesterday, officials predicted the Stadium extension might carry as many as 20,000 cars per day by 2030. Still, they said, the highway should be envisioned less as an expressway than as a major arterial road that would relieve pressure on the congested intersection of U.S. 63 and I-70.
Completion of the extension, according to the purpose and need statement, would increase the capacity for economic development on the east side in the form of “small commercial centers, office complexes and . . . larger scale commercial development at selected locations.”
If action is not taken soon, however, “land within the proposed corridor will be substantially developed,” making it impossible to build the extension, according to the statement.
Despite the urgent tone of the report, officials are no closer to developing plans for building the highway.
“I have no idea what the timetable is for construction,” Glascock said.