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Hunt Avenue residents weigh benefits of road improvements

Sunday, October 28, 2007 | 7:09 p.m. CDT; updated 12:18 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 19, 2008
Reconstruction works have been proposed for Hunt Avenue. The project will result in a wider street pavement, improved drainage and a sidewalk on the west side of the street.

COLUMBIA — After Thomas Weller finished cutting the grass in his backyard, he hesitated on the walk to the front of his small home on Hunt Avenue. He didn’t feel as motivated to cut the front lawn because he had learned that it may soon be reduced by more than 10 feet.

Reconstruction of 1,500 feet of Hunt Avenue between West Worley Street and I-70 Drive Southwest has been proposed for City Council approval at its Nov. 5 meeting by Columbia Public Works.

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The plan calls for widening the road, improving the drainage and increasing the safety of pedestrians and cyclists. However, the plan would affect the size of front yards only on the west side of the street to avoid relocating existing power poles on the east side, which are more numerous than on the west side.

The plan calls for widening Hunt Avenue from 20 feet to 28 feet, allowing cars to park on both sides of the road rather than just on the east side. The project also includes adding a 5-foot sidewalk to the west side curb, as well as drainage improvements.

As of now, there is no sidewalk on either side of the street, and drainage is composed of only shallow grooves and narrow culverts beneath some driveways.

While residents generally are in favor of better road conditions and improved drainage, those living on the west side — including Weller ­— have qualms about the layout of the proposed project.

Mike Hall, Weller’s next-door neighbor, understands the need for improved drainage but said the sidewalk would be unnecessary for a relatively short street.

“If you stay out here all day long, we’d only see half a dozen people walking along this street,” he said, adding that the neighborhood would be happy if the authorities just improved the street pavement.

Weller’s main concern is the possible removal of trees to make way for the westward expansion, though a Public Works press release said that every effort will be made to preserve the large trees and replace or preserve the smaller trees.

Homeowner Henry Jackson said he was unaware of the reconstruction plans, but he welcomed the move.

“Hopefully they’ll let me know before they start doing it, just so that I’d have enough time to move my plants,” Jackson said, pointing toward his front yard. He added that he planned to put his house on the market and welcomed the prospect of a better road and drainage.

The project is expected to cost $561,000, with $40,100 going to Shafer, Kline & Warren Inc. for engineering design services. An unspecified amount of the construction will be funded by the Capital Improvement Project and a Community Development Block Grant. Some sewer maintenance replacements will be required during the project, and other utilities will be evaluated for repairs.

Jill Stedem, public information specialist for the Public Works Department, said First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton will meet with residents about concerns over trees in the affected area before reporting back to the City Council on Nov. 5.


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