COLUMBIA — The Columbia City Council voted 6-1 to establish a temporary task force on infrastructure at its Monday meeting .
The task force, which will be active for one year, was created to examine the city's stormwater, sewer, street and downtown electric systems. It is expected to study the current condition of city infrastructure, offer plans for improvement, identify funding sources for infrastructure and provide a recommendation on whether the council should establish a permanent infrastructure commission.
Third Ward Councilman Karl Skala, who cast the lone dissenting vote, said establishing a permanent infrastructure commission would be necessary.
"I favor something in a more permanent basis," Skala said. "We need something that is more permanent and has a broader vision."
Skala also recommended the council reschedule a work session with the Downtown Leadership Council to have a further discussion about the infrastructure report it released in October.
John Clark, a longtime Columbia resident who has run for public office several times, said at the public meeting that he recommended the council pursue a long-term infrastructure plan, engage independent experts outside the system, and include more public infrastructure issues such as transportation needs in the report.
The mayor will appoint nine members to the group, with at least four having backgrounds in stormwater, sewer, water, electric or street systems at the first council meeting in August. The task force will be headed by former Rep. Chris Kelly, and it will include First Ward Councilman Clyde Ruffin.
By a 6-0 vote, the city council also approved the construction of crosswalks on the four legs of the Old 63 and Stadium Boulevard intersection and creation of two left turn lanes from northbound Old 63 onto westbound Stadium Boulevard. First Ward Councilman Clyde Ruffin was absent at the time of the vote.
The two crosswalks would cost approximately $24,000 and would be funded by the quarter-cent Capital Improvement Sales Tax, according to city documents.
The council tabled discussion of the intersection project on May 4 to confer with Missouri Department of Transportation about the extra crosswalks and to allow for a study of the northbound left turn. While the average driver faces a 45-second delay at the intersection, there is an average delay over two minutes for a car to turn left onto Stadium, according to city documents.
Fourth Ward Councilman Ian Thomas said he appreciated the traffic study. He said he would ask city staff for a written report on the crosswalk project in the future.
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