Columbia Public Works Department held an informal meeting Wednesday to present design concepts for its Clark Lane Non-motorized Improvement Project.
The Department is still taking public comments through Nov. 20. The project proposes widening the road 5 feet on either side and restriping the road to include 11-foot-wide lanes and 6-foot-wide shoulders. The road also would be narrowed by 1 foot instead of adding the sidewalks that several Columbia residents desire.
However, members of a group advocating sidewalks for the plan expressed their concerns about the project. The public is concerned about the safety of pedestrians, and many think the project would make the road even more dangerous.
Joan Wilcox, who frequently travels on Clark Lane, says narrowing Clark Lane will only cause more accidents to occur. She says the road is already a dangerous road to drive on.
“By narrowing this, you are going to have more cars weaving or sliding on snow and ice, and you don’t want anyone to have an accident or slide right into pedestrians,” Wilcox said.
Wilcox brought a poster to the meeting to show the problems of widening Clark Lane. She also presented designs of a possible buffer she believes would protect people from cars swerving off the road.
“That’s the only way it should be done, with a buffer, with a nice safe buffer between the sidewalk and the road,” Wilcox said.
Cliff Jarvis, a Columbia Public Works Engineer, said building a sidewalk on Clark Lane is a three-year process. It is a matter of timing since they need to plan and coordinate with MoDOT in order to start the construction.
“We’re going to widen the road at this point because there is an urgent need, and we can get construction under way by May of next year,” Jarvis said.
Jarvis said their projects typically take time, and the key is Public Works can widen the roads sooner rather then building the sidewalk right away.
The next public hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16. Jarvis said that is when they hope to make the decision to approve the project. Any additional comments will be welcome through Nov. 20.