Business owners, employees torn over Nifong Boulevard renovations
COLUMBIA - On Tuesday night, Columbia City Council approved a $12.3 million improvement to sections of Nifong and Forum Boulevard.
The developments include pedestrian crosswalks, bike lanes, traffic signals and an additional traffic lane on eastbound and westbound Nifong.
Allison Anderson, Columbia Public Works engineering supervisor, said the project would address what officials see as poor performance and traffic congestion.
“This will improve mobility for all types of pedestrians, bikers and vehicles,” Anderson said.
The project is scheduled to begin in 2020, and construction would last a year.
Nearby businesses are torn between whether the improvements are necessary.
Angela Decker, a clerk at Tiger Cleaners, said construction may affect business, but she believes it will make things better.
“I see a need for it. I’ve seen people wait, and wait, and wait just to turn.”
Nancy Lewis, owner of Shakespeare’s, said she hopes the development will improve traffic during the time local schools are released.
“Traffic here is usually pretty normal, but it picks up during school times,” Lewis said. “I try to avoid the area when schools get out around three.”
Not everyone is happy about the proposed plan. Burle Lutz, owner of Lutz's BBQ, said the construction will hurt his business.
“Do you look for construction when you go out to eat? I doubt it,” Lutz said. I think it could be hard to recover two or three years after the fact."
“I think it’ll mess things up and the longer they drag it out, the worse it will be for business."
Anderson said construction should not slow traffic. Instead Nifong will be limited to two lanes, and work will be split into sections.