COLUMBIA - The Columbia Public Works Department proposed a second alternative plan for the Providence Road construction near Stadium Boulevard. The plan could save eight historic houses from being demolished. The plan could also save over $1 million, and make the Grasslands a safer neighborhood by adding sidewalks on the side.
City council member Laura Nauser said instead of building a new road or demolishing houses, the new plan would reconstruct the existing road to bring it up to the city's standard.
The original two phases for the Providence Road plan would add right turn lanes and streetlights at intersections along Providence Road in order to improve traffic flow and public safety. The project would also build a new road across the Grasslands neighborhood, but it would demolish eight homes built in the 1920s on the west side of Providence Road.
The Columbia City Council has already approved phase one of the project, which would destroy two out of eight homes. The estimated cost for phase one is $3.6 million. Phase two is expected to cost $3.3 million for a total of about $6.9 million.
Residents in the Grasslands neighborhood said they are concerned for the safety of pedestrians and vehicular traffic coming in and out of the neighborhood. But they don't believe that tearing down homes should be a part of the plan, and the project is too expensive.
Bruce Beckett, a Grasslands resident, said in a public hearing, "If you tear all those (houses) down, you're just ripping the face off a great neighborhood, and I think you're going to destroy its whole aesthetic look."
Maddy Bailey, a current renter, lives in one of the houses that are in danger. She said the house is old, and close to the road, but she has lots of memories there.
"I really don't want to see this house be pulled down because I love it. But I can see why there is a need to do that in order to make improvement, to make it a safer road," Bailey said.
The Columbia Historic Preservation Commission also proposed an alternative plan for the construction two weeks ago, which also aims to save as many houses as possible. But none of the commission member wanted to talk about the project this week. Brian Treece and Brent Gardner, the president and vice president of the Historic Preservation Commission, said they could not comment on the subject.
The city council will review the new alternative at the coming city council meeting on Monday Feb. 18.