The planned widening of Interstate 70 stands to have a significant impact on jobs and taxes, and the city of Columbia wants to know more about those potential impacts.
There are more than 300 businesses along the I-70 corridor in Columbia, and the city is taking bids from companies for an impact study about how the project would affect local jobs and tax revenues.
The Missouri Department of Transportation is still studying options for widening the highway to eight lanes, and all of the alternatives being considered will cause considerable disruption for businesses along the six-mile stretch of the interstate that goes through Columbia.
John Wolf, owner of Columbia Mitsubishi on I-70 Drive Southwest, said that any construction will definitely affect his dealership and that one option being considered would force him to relocate.
“It’s all just conjecture right now, and nobody really knows what they’re going to do,” he said. “If they have to do away with a lot of businesses, that would obviously harm the city in terms of tax dollars.”
In an effort to more precisely determine the impact, the city will make information available to the study firm, such as tax parcels and assessed property values. Another objective is to identify suitable relocation sites for businesses that would be forced from their current locations.
The city hopes to select a firm before the end of this year and send a contract to the City Council on Jan. 5. The study is expected to take six months to complete.
The state transportation department recently concluded its own business survey of the area. The survey, conducted by the Louis Berger Group, collected results from 108 businesses, many of which cited concerns about suitable relocation sites.
Gary Vandelicht of the Louis Berger Group said a majority of the businesses realize the need to expand the current interstate.
“They were in support of the project,” he said. “There is just some concern about some of the impacts during construction.”