Columbia talks traffic, solar power

The Columbia City Council last Tuesday night approved a traffic study of Route 3 between Valmeyer Road and Veterans Parkway.

The main focus of the study to be conducted by Vokert, Inc., will be morning traffic during school arrival time and the flow of afternoon traffic at the intersection of Veterans Parkway. 

Columbia City Engineer Chris Smith explained the city wished to “revisit” the stretch of road with updated traffic data in order to determine if any projects or grants would be available  through the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Smith said the study would be conducted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. during a “typical” traffic day – not a holiday or time when a deviation from normal traffic volume would be expected.

In addition to the approved study, Columbia City Administrator Doug Brimm reported city officials recently spoke with IDOT to find solutions for the high number of traffic crashes at the intersection of Route 3 at North Main Street/Sand Bank Road.

Plans include adding a flashing yellow left-turn signal to the traffic light at North Main Street to encourage caution at the intersection. Brimm also said IDOT officials are considering a slight adjustment to areas of Route 3 approaching the intersection in order to improve motorist visibility.

Smith also noted work is expected to begin later this year on Valmeyer Road.

A supply chain issue had delayed the project for over a year, but Smith said he expects the box culvert needed to complete this project to arrive at the beginning of May.

Columbia Director of Community Development Scott Dunakey addressed the council to review a proposed zoning text amendment which would establish solar energy regulations in the city.

Dunakey advised aldermen he expects the trend of application for solar equipment installation to increase as the cost of electricity rises and tax credits continue to be offered for individuals and businesses who use solar energy.

Approval for the zoning amendment was recommended by the Columbia Plan Commission during its Feb. 13 meeting.

The zoning ordinance would provide guidance for implementation of residential and commercial solar energy equipment, which the city does not currently have. 

The current draft would allow for solar panels to be installed on a building and also provides regulations for ground-mounted equipment. 

After some discussion, Brimm suggested the council table the matter to address concerns aldermen expressed, including sections about commercial solar energy protocols.

The matter will be revisited during the March 6 council meeting.

During the public input portion of the meeting, Ron Diedrich asked the council about a mailer Columbia residents have been receiving which contains facts about the upcoming “home rule” referendum question. 

Diedrich pointed out the mailer appeared to be distributed by the City of Columbia, which he claimed would violate several state statutes regarding political mail. 

Later in the meeting it was confirmed no public city funds were used to send the mailer, thereby rendering any claims of illegal or unethical practices moot.

The city will continue its series of town hall meetings to educate residents on what home rule means and how Columbia could benefit from becoming a home rule municipality. 

The next meeting is scheduled for March 8 beginning at 6:30 p.m. at Columbia Public Library, 106 N. Metter Avenue. For more information, visit

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Scott Woodsmall

HTC web