A broader Broadway

The plan intends to remove tough turns for a nearby apartment complex and add sidewalks for pedestrians.
Thursday, March 18, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 2:27 a.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

Early morning and evening are the worst times for getting in and out of Broadway Village apartments alongside East Broadway, MU doctoral student Tim Wilson said. The wait can be up to 10 minutes.

“If you have got to be at work at 8 o’clock and you’re not out there by 7:30 or 7:45, forget it,” Wilson said.

With no turn lane and with cars racing past at 40 mph in only two lanes of traffic, darting onto East Broadway at either rush hour can be both frustrating and frightening.

The city and the Missouri Department of Transportation, however, have a $5.1 million solution on the way for commuters, and it is set to begin in December.

Plan to extend East Broadway to four lanes

The project will expand East Broadway to four lanes in an effort to ease motorists’ frustrations.

Wilson and other residents of Broadway Village often use the access road that cuts by Eastgate Plaza to enter or exit the complex rather than battle the East Broadway traffic.

MU law student Erick Creach said it’s especially difficult to turn left into and out of Broadway Village.

“If you’re trying to turn left into here from East Broadway, you’ll have to wait so long that cars back up behind you all the way back to the light at Wal-Mart,” Creach said. “Turning left out of here is almost impossible.”

Creach said several improvements are warranted. “A traffic light would really help, or even just a left-turn lane would help.”

Creach and his fellow Broadway Village residents will get just that. The city will install a new stoplight that allows left and right turns at the east entrance to Broadway Village, said Dan Hagan, owner of the complex.

“The primary entrance will be right-in, right-out only,” Hagan said. “If people want to turn left, they will be able to go down to the light.”

Hagan believes the work will alleviate his tenants’ concerns.

Sidewalks, pedways included in project

Motorists are not the only group that will benefit from the improvements.

Sidewalks and pedways are included in the project. That’s good, because the area is perilous for pedestrians, said Chip Cooper of the PedNet Coalition.

“East Broadway is one of the most dangerous roads in Columbia for bike/ped/wheelchair use,” Cooper said. “The traffic volumes and speeds are very high. … There is no sidewalk on either side. With major residential areas, a major public park and extensive retail services, the area desperately needs far safer facilities.”

PedNet had some input in the planning stages of the project and asked that pedestrian amenities be included, Cooper said. “Broadway is part of the PedNet backbone and, thus, is a very important part of creating basic connectivity for our network.”

Several other projects will accompany the widening. Those will include relocating the Brickton Road traffic signal to Trimble Road and building a new four-lane bridge, with sidewalks, over Hinkson Creek.

“The bridge is now functionally obsolete,” said Stuart King, a civil engineer at the Columbia Public Works Department. “It only has two lanes of traffic.”

A separate project will improve the traffic islands at East Broadway and Old 63 to make the intersection safer, King said. The city, however, has set aside no money for that project.

Widening projected to take about one year

The road widening will take about a year, depending on weather, King said.

MoDOT will pay $4.3 million of the $5.1 million price tag on the condition that the city maintain the road after it’s finished. MoDOT will also provide $338,744 in Surface Transportation Enhancement Funds for the sidewalks and pedways. The remaining $400,000 will be paid by the city from local capital improvement funds.

The project will be done in phases so that traffic can continue traveling the road and crossing the bridge while the work is being done, King said. “We have a very detailed construction phasing plan. We have to leave the road in service at all times.”

The entire project was designed by Burns & McDonnell, and a contractor probably will be chosen by November.

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