New businesses cause surge in traffic

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COLUMBIA - A Starbucks opened at Nifong Boulevard and Buttonwood Drive Thursday, one of several new businesses to open on Nifong in the last year, adding to the already busy road's traffic flow. 

The section of Nifong Boulevard between Green Meadows Road and Providence Road is home to a number of businesses including the new Starbucks, Buffalo Wild Wings, McDonald's and a Hyvee grocery store and gas station. 

Columbia city officials said they're aware of how much traffic is on the road, which becomes Grindstone Parkway.

"Grindstone Parkway was designed to be a commercial area," said Richard Stone, Columbia's chief traffic engineer. "It went from a two lane road to a four and five lane road with left and right turn lanes at intersections."

But some residents don't think that's enough to accommodate all the business in the area.

"I don't think they thought about how many new businesses would be here," Columbia resident Atreyo Ghosh said.

He said, since all of the new businesses have moved in city hasn't "done a ton."

According to Stone, the city of Columbia shares road maintenance with the Missouri Department of Transportation.

"We work with MoDOT to improve traffic flow whenever we can," Stone said. 

The heavy traffic is exactly what led Starbucks to want a store on Nifong. 

"We had been looking to open a location on the south side of town for awhile," said Starbucks regional manager Todd Holmes. "With the heavy volume, it was a great location."

Stone said all businesses that open in Columbia meet all city plans and codes.