COLUMBIA — A $3.6 million reconstruction of Clark Lane between Ballenger Lane and St. Charles Road won the approval of the Columbia City Council on Monday night. The design reflects city engineers’ surging appreciation for roundabouts, with circular intersections planned at both ends of the new street.
The project is scheduled for 2008. It also includes a median with occasional cutouts and a slight realignment of Route PP.
These changes have been designed with the future growth of the area in mind, Public Works Director John Glascock said in a report to the council. Traffic is expected to increase along Clark Lane, in part because of Columbia Public Schools’ selection of a high school site along St. Charles Road.
During the meeting, business owners and residents who live along Clark Lane said they had concerns with how a median might affect businesses.
“Putting that median would hamper our business development,” said Dave Harr, who owns a rezoned commercial property on the road.
Those same businesses and residents were also concerned that left turns would be possible only at specific intersections. As a result, it would reduce the ability of customers to access the businesses locations.
For residents along Clark Lane, proposals for the median along the reconstruction route stirred some concern as well.
“The median in the middle would be a great obstruction,” said Nancy Baker, a resident who takes a left daily on the road. “I would be forced to go right every morning.”
In response to these concerns, Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala pointed out during the council’s discussion that the reconstruction would “funnel traffic into an already unimproved road.”
Skala added that two lanes are not enough to accommodate the amount of future traffic that is predicted to use the road. The design, however, allows for adding two more lanes on either side of the road.
Mayor Darwin Hindman addressed these concerns by noting that the median planned along Clark Lane is designed to control access points along the road and decrease the number of accidents due to left turns.
“We need to be as effective as we can with two lanes,” Hindman said.
These changes have been estimated to function for the next 10 to 15 years, the Public Works report said, allowing for any further changes throughout future periods of growth.
In general, the council also recognized the necessity of updating the road. The council acknowledged that recent developments in the area, including The Links golf and apartment community and plans for a new high school on St. Charles Road, will increase traffic significantly.
“I don’t think this is the ultimate right solution,” Skala said. “But we do need it.”