The Columbia City Council put proposed street design standards on hold yet again Monday night.
After a two-hour-long public hearing, the council decided it had too many unanswered questions to move forward. The council tabled the issue for further discussion at its June 7 meeting.
Twenty-four Columbia residents addressed the council in support of the new street design standards developed by the city Planning and Zoning Commission and also supported Mayor Darwin Hindman’s proposal for a 5-foot minimum sidewalk width for all streets.
The proposed street-standards package includes narrower streets to slow traffic and to reduce paved surface area. It also requires 4-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of residential streets and 5-foot-wide sidewalks on both sides of nonresidential streets.
Streets constructed for higher volumes of traffic are required to have at least 5-foot-wide sidewalks on one side and 6-, 8- or 10-foot-wide sidewalks on the other side, depending on the type of street.
These changes are common around the country, said Jerry Wade, chairman of the planning group.
One of the key concerns raised repeatedly was the rise in childhood obesity. Ellen Thomas, a pediatrician, said the 5-foot wide sidewalks would encourage more outdoor activity and help reduce this problem.
“Every week I talk to parents who have concerns about their children’s inactivity and obesity problems,” Thomas said. “I hear over and over again ‘It isn’t safe to ride bikes in our neighborhood because cars go too fast,’ and ‘We can’t walk to school because we have to cross a busy street or a dangerous intersection.’”
Don Stamper, speaking for the Central Missouri Development Council, said he’s still concerned about the costs and wants the council to be mindful of the cost implications of the proposed street standards.
“Hidden maintenance costs,” including the right of way and median landscaping, are concerns to the Public Works Department, said Lowell Patterson, the department’s director. Those, along with concerns about getting city service vehicles through narrower streets, are issues he wants the council to consider when making its decision.
If Hindman’s amendment for 5-foot minimum sidewalk widths on all streets is passed, the extra foot will come out of the buffer between the road and the sidewalk.
Intersection design standards that show the specifics of how sidewalks and pedways will cross with streets at intersections will be developed at a later time, Hindman said.
— Missourian reporter Coulter Jones contributed to this report