Columbia developer Raul Walters has filed a petition with the Boone County Circuit Court to form the city’s third transportation development district. If approved, the measure could mean a $15 million overhaul of the Stadium Boulevard corridor between West Broadway and Interstate 70.
According to the Feb. 27 petition, the proposed transportation development district would consist of five tracts along Stadium Boulevard, each owned by Walters or one of his companies. The district would finance a series of improvements to Stadium Boulevard and several adjacent side streets. Either the district or the city would issue bonds to raise the estimated $15 million needed to carry out the improvements. The transportation development district would then pay off the bonds over time by imposing up to a 1 percent sales tax on all retail transactions completed inside the district.
While the need to reduce traffic on Stadium Boulevard is widely recognized, the manner in which Walters has set about forming the proposed transportation development district has caught some city and Missouri Department of Transportation officials off guard.
“We’re a little surprised,” Assistant City Manager Bill Watkins said.
Watkins said that although the city has known of Walters’ interest in improving Stadium Boulevard since January, no other discussion had occurred on the matter until the city was presented court papers on May 18.
“I haven’t even seen any of the engineering plans,” Transportation Department attorney Bryce Gamblin said. City and state officials are usually given copies of the plans so any problems can be worked out before the circuit court’s ruling on the formation of the transportation development district.
Both the city and the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission have 30 days from the time they were served to answer Walters’ petition. It will then be up to the circuit court judge to determine the legality of both the transportation development district and the proposed method of financing.
The aim of the improvements, as stated in the petition, would be to reduce traffic congestion — and thus hazards and delays — along Stadium Boulevard and to provide safer and easier access to it.
Transportation development districts can finance and carry out transportation-related projects.