WHAT'S WRONG WITH NIFONG?

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COLUMBIA - Major changes may be coming to a couple of Columbia's busiest streets to alleviate traffic flow.

Members of the 'Nifong Boulevard Corridor Improvements Project' introduced their proposals to the public on Thursday evening. The group plans to present the final design of their proposal at a Columbia City Council meeting in early 2018.

The proposal includes renovating a section of Nifong Boulevard, between Providence Road and Willowcreek Lane. The project adds bike lanes, sidewalks, and two more driving lanes. Intersections in the area would also be renovated to ease heavy traffic.

David Nichols, the director of public works in the city of Columbia, said the project stems from a strong desire from locals.

"When we (the city of Columbia) developed our ballot in 2015, Nifong was a project we got a lot of feedback in," Nichols said. "The response indicated to us that there was a strong desire for this."

Nichols said renovations to the street have been a topic of discussion in the community for over a decade.

"In our 05' ballot, it was discussed, but it wasn't a selected project in 05', and since then, the corridor has grown significantly - traffic congestion at the intersection, driveways, and connection points," Nichols said. "Now is the opportunity to get ahead of the improvement."

Renovations are also being proposed for Forum Boulevard, between Green Meadows Road and Nifong Boulevard. The proposal is to widen the street from its current two lanes to a five-lane road with bike lanes.

While the proposals are separate projects, Nichols said both have the same goal.

"By incorporating access management, we're going to make Nifong a safer corridor," Nichols said. "And it's going to move traffic more efficiently. That combination will really enhance the ability of Nifong to really function as the arterial as it's designated as."

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