COLUMBIA — During this year’s holiday shopping season, Columbia police issued more than 260 traffic citations in an effort to crack down on traffic problems at seven intersections along Stadium Boulevard, from Broadway north to Interstate 70.
Police started the Special Traffic Enforcement Program because of the large number of complaints concerning high traffic volume and complaints from residents, said Sgt. Tim Moriarity, supervisor of the traffic unit for the Police Department. The department has carried out the program for the past few years.
Between Nov. 22 and Christmas Day, police made 267 total traffic stops at the seven selected intersections. Additionally, 26 accidents were reported at those intersections during the monthlong program, according to Police Department statistics.
Nearly half of traffic stops were because vehicles were blocking an intersection. The next highest number of stops were related to passing on the shoulder of Stadium Boulevard. Red light violations were also high, with 55 citations.
At times, traffic was so congested that officers had to manually direct traffic, Moriarity said.
“The worst intersections were (at) Stadium and Bernadette and Stadium and Worley,” Moriarity said. “We had people working regular patrol and overtime from the department. The number of traffic violations were actually lower than reported because we don’t have the numbers from the regular patrol.”
Despite stepping up its efforts, traffic problems will remain an issue until a relief valve for the traffic pressure is created by another interchange leading to I-70, Moriarity said.
“It gets really bad during the holiday season,” he said.
The holiday season is not the only time the department deploys extra patrols at the seven intersections, Moriarity said. It does so any time complaints pile up.
“We even get complaints when we’re out there,” Moriarity said. “This program was started out of citizen frustration. We have new signs up about blocking intersections, and in some cases we put cones out in the lanes just so people are more aware.”
He added, “We’ll continue to target particular problems throughout Columbia until relief is worked out for those intersections.”