Construction begins on College Avenue median

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COLUMBIA - Construction crews began closing down parts of College Avenue at 7:30 a.m. Monday to construct a median on College Avenue.

The inside northbound and southbound lanes will be closed during construction resulting in just one lane of traffic each way. Pedestrians will have to cross College Avenue at the University or Rollins crosswalks during the next three months. Some areas of the sidewalk may also be closed during construction.

A 2009 study done by the University of Missouri and Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier found nearly 19,000 vehicles drive on College Avenue between University Avenue and Bouchelle Avenue. The study also found 7,500 students crossed College Avenue in two days, but only 2,500 used the crosswalk at University Avenue.

Another part of the study showed nine reported pedestrian crashes in that area between 2009 and 2012. The study also quoted a student who spoke at an interested parties meeting who got injured twice while crossing the road, but did not report it. 

Crews will build a median in the current left turn lane between University Avenue and Rollins Street. MoDot will also add two signalized pedestrian crossing points. The crosswalks are called HAWK crosswalks, or High Intensity Activated Crosswalks. 

The HAWK crosswalks are meant to increase pedestrian safety and also minimize traffic delays because they are only activated when a pedestrian hits a button. The lights at the crosswalk flash yellow when the pedestrian hits the button, and turn solid yellow to warn cars to stop. Two lights turn red when cars are supposed to stop and let the pedestrians cross the street. 

The MoDot website states it's common in Europe and "since its introduction in the United States, studies have shown a decrease in pedestrian-related accidents."

The project is called the College Avenue Safety Enhancement Project, or CASE, and is scheduled to be completed by Friday, August 21. 

Read more about the College Safety Enhancement Project on the City of Columbia website here.