City plans bike lanes, medians for Forum-Stadium intersection

Thursday, October 11, 2007 | 6:35 p.m. CDT; updated 9:27 p.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008

COLUMBIA — The bustling intersection of Stadium and Forum boulevards is in line for work intended to make it more friendly for pedestrians, bicyclists and drivers.

The proposed work would create raised, striped crosswalks, bike lanes, a signal for northbound bicycle traffic on Forum, a pedestrian signal at the southwest corner and raised medians on Stadium. The right-turn lane from Forum to Stadium also would be reconfigured so its easier for turning drivers to see.

This intersection is among eight the city plans to improve using the $22 million federal non-motorized transportation pilot grant. Public hearings on two other targeted intersections — Providence and Stewart roads and Providence and Stadium — were held over the summer.

Stadium-Forum is a major intersection for those who live or work in southwest Columbia, but as traffic becomes heavier, its design presents significant problems, especially for bicyclists. One challenge is the lack of bike lanes.

Several residents showed up for an open house on Tuesday to offer their opinions about the intersection. Dale Brigham, who crosses the intersection twice a day on his bike route to work at MU, was among them.

Brigham said that because of the way traffic lights are set up, a bicyclist can be stranded on a traffic island with cars whizzing past.

“It’s a problem for cars, bikes and pedestrians,” Brigham said. “It’s bad for all of us.”

PedNet Coalition member Robert Johnson said another headache, and safety issue, is the problem bicyclists encounter when trying to cross from the bike path at the northeast corner of the intersection to the shopping center at the southwest corner. Bicyclists heading south across Stadium end up on a sidewalk going against traffic before crossing Forum south of the intersection.

A proposed northbound bike lane would run along the east side of Forum between Stadium and the entrance to Forum Shopping Center while a southbound bike lane on the west side would feed into a sidewalk.

Thomas Ryan, an engineer with the consulting firm HDR, said the most significant problem for motorists at the intersection is the right-turn lane from Forum onto Stadium. The angle of the lane, he said, makes it difficult for motorists to see oncoming traffic. The intersection averages 15 to 20 collisions per year involving cars turning right from Forum onto Stadium.

To correct the visibility problem, the engineers propose reducing the angle of the right turn lane so that it meets Stadium closer to 90 degrees. The raised crosswalks are also designed to act as speed bumps but with a wider flatter top and to make pedestrians more visible.

City traffic engineer Richard Stone said some business owners near the intersection worry the plans overall will reduce the capacity for cars. Stone said that there would be a “slight impact” on cars but that engineers tried to minimize that by eliminating plans for a raised crosswalk on Stadium on the west side of the intersection.

“It’s our job to do this so we can serve all modes of transportation,” Stone said.

The project is estimated to cost $200,000-$300,000 and is subject to final approval by the City Council. The Missouri Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration also must sign off on the plans before work can begin in 2008.

The City Council plans to hold a public hearing on the project during its next regular meeting, which begins at 7 p.m. Monday at the Daniel Boone Building, 701 E. Broadway. Click here for the full staff report on the project. .

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