First ped-grant projects proposed

Major intersections are the primary targets in using the federal grant.
Thursday, May 25, 2006 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 6:15 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Nearly a year after Columbia was selected as one of four cities to receive a $22 million federal grant for projects that promote bicycling and walking, the city has a plan on how to spend a chunk of the money this year.

The first round of proposed projects would cost about $2.6 million. They include improvements to 12 major intersections, signs and striping for bicycle lanes, the replacement of paratransit software and the hiring of a project manager to oversee the grant program.

A transportation planning committee has included the projects as proposed amendments to the city’s transportation improvement program for 2006. A public hearing on the changes will be held at 2:30 p.m. today in the mezzanine conference room of the Daniel Boone City Building.

Ian Thomas, executive director of the PedNet Coalition and a member of the 35-person task force appointed to help the city do long-range planning for the grant money, said he likes the proposed amendments.

Changes to major intersections — such as Providence and Stewart roads, Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard, and Scott Boulevard and Gillespie Bridge Road — represent the largest portion of the proposed projects at an estimated cost of $2.4 million. Plans call for curb cuts in compliance with the Americans With Disabilities Act and for better signals, crosswalks and signs.

“I am familiar with all of the intersections,” Thomas said. “They are all extremely hostile to pedestrians.”

David Nichols, chief engineer in the Columbia Public Works Department, said the improvements are important because intersections need to accommodate more than one type of traffic.

“If the intersection isn’t accessible, it creates confusion with different traffic movements,” he said.

The proposals represent the first concrete steps toward spending the grant money since the award was announced last summer. Columbia and the other cities chosen for the pilot program will be required to keep detailed records on whether the projects actually result in more people biking and walking. They must report their findings by 2010.

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