Columbia talks future projects - Republic-Times | News

Columbia talks future projects

By on February 14, 2018 at 4:04 pm

The Columbia City Council Committee of the Whole discussed an array of topics from downtown beautification to both cash flow and traffic flow during its Monday night meeting.

City engineer Chris Smith provided an update on plans to begin work on the realignment of Gall Road at its intersection with southbound Route 3. The project is funded through a Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program  grant, with the state paying 80 percent and the city paying the remaining 20 percent. 

The state’s portion is capped at $400,000 for engineering and construction.

Assuming a smooth bid letting in April, Smith plans to be able to complete the bulk of the work on the intersection this summer.

“The intersection will have to be closed a maximum of six weeks,” Smith said.

And while no one would go so far as to call the situation convenient, there are several reasons it is the best case scenario.

“By shutting the intersection down, it yields a safer environment for drivers, it’s safer for workers, and the project can be completed more quickly and therefore at a much better price,” Smith added.

And while the entire project can’t be completed in six weeks, the remaining portions, such as installing new traffic signals, will be done during off-peak travel times and with lane reductions rather than complete closures.

The main element of the project is to add a designated left turn lane for drivers exiting Gall Road onto Route 3. This will require widening the intersection to align the lanes with those of South Main Street, installing new stoplights reflecting the additional lane, and adding sidewalks. The sidewalks will extend from the entrance to Oerter Park on the north side of Gall Road to Route 3, and on the south side of Gall Road from near the Shoemaker Schoolhouse parking lot to Route 3, turning onto southbound Route 3 and extending about 25 feet to the Metro Bus stop.

No houses along Gall Road, Shoemaker Schoolhouse nor Christ Community Church will lose property and they will be accessible during construction, albeit less directly. 

A detour will direct vehicles to westbound Valmeyer Road to south on D Road, to east on Steppig Road, then northeast on Gall Road. The entire detour is about five miles long and will potentially add about 10 minutes of drive time. 

The project is slated for a summer start for minimal impact on school bus routes and after-school activities including the church’s after-school care program and soccer at Oerter Park.

Smith also spoke with aldermen about resurfacing Quarry Road. Although the project is considerably farther into the future than the Gall Road project, Smith is feeling out city representatives’ thoughts on how to handle the increased traffic that will come when the Immaculate Conception Catholic Education and Activity Center is completed, as well as from an expansion of Brellinger and a new subdivision recently approved for further down Quarry Road to be known as Walnut Ridge.

Initial plans were to put in a left turn lane from Quarry Road onto Palmer Road for vehicles driving to and from the new ICS. But such a lane won’t help cars attempting to make left turns onto Quarry Road, potentially causing long delays and unsafe conditions.

“My thought is that we possibly apply for a CMAC grant for a roundabout, which will eliminate a lot of the delays as well as accommodate the future growth,” said Smith, who added that according to traffic studies, a roundabout would reduce the time vehicles wait to make left turns at peak times and with peak ICS enrollment from 45-60 seconds to five seconds.

Smith emphasized this idea is still in the early stages and it would likely be two to three years before any action would be taken at that intersection.

Also at the meeting, Columbia High School junior Jessica Rachelle received permission to pursue her attempt to paint a mural on the Naumann Building at 237 N. Main Street. She will do so to complete her Girl Scout Gold Award, which is similar to the Eagle Scout awarded in Boy Scouting.

“My hope for the mural is that it will have a positive impact on the community as it will have an inspiring message and it will address the (community’s) German heritage,” Rachelle said.

She has been working with the building’s owners on her design and must obtain a sign variance from the city before she can begin work on it because of its size — about 85 square feet.

The aldermen urged her to continue pursuing the project.

Finally, accounting manager Linda Sharp gave a brief update on where the city stands in revenues at the three-quarter mark of the fiscal year.

The sales tax, income tax, use tax and motor fuel tax accounts are all showing revenues exceeding last year’s and in most cases exceeding the projections laid out in the current budget.

“We budget very conservatively,” said city administrator Jimmy Morani. “We tend to always exceed our revenue projections.”

Knowing where revenues stand for the current fiscal year and what budget projections indicate allow the aldermen to begin the budget process for the next fiscal year, which begins May 1, with a good idea of the funds they will have to work with as they weigh all the city’s potential expenses.

Andrea F.D. Saathoff

Andrea is a graduate of Gibault High School and the University of Missouri School of Journalism, the University of Missouri Harry S Truman School of Public Affairs and Southern Illinois University Edwardsville College of Education. She lives in Columbia with her husband and their twin toddler sons. When she isn't cheering on St. Louis Cardinals baseball or riding the emotional roller coaster of Mizzou Tigers football, she enjoys attending and participating in the many family events the county has to offer. email: andrea@republictimes.net