COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council held a meeting Monday to discuss possible improvements to Interstate 70. The changes will then be proposed to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) for approval and funding.  Part of the interstate being discussed includes 17 miles and 10 interchanges.

The Columbia Public Works department has already received approval and partial funding to change the connector between I-70 and US 63. The department has established three alternative designs with MoDot for the connector and will review the design build process in 2023, before construction is set to begin in 2024.

There were six other interchanges and outer roads discussed at Monday's meeting that still need approval and funding from MoDOT.

The Public Works department emphasized the construction of an outer road, both north and south of I-70, from US 40 to Stadium Boulevard to help with traffic near west Columbia. The construction would create a total of 6.25 miles with three bridges over Perche Creek.

"Having better emergency access across Perche as well is one of the key components, so having some other way to get across Perche is pretty important," Columbia Public Works Engineering and Operations Manager, Richard Stone, said. "Currently, you'd have to go down Gillespie Bridge, which is about 2 miles away and those roads aren't really made for I-70 type traffic going through town, so that's what we see as being pretty important."

One of the most discussed points at the meeting involved the Business Loop interchange and its roundabouts. A proposal was made to add slip lanes from westbound Business Loop to eastbound I-70.  A slip lane allows drivers to cleanly enter the eastbound ramp from Business Loop without going through the roundabout. Some members of the City Council were concerned for pedestrians that may use the crosswalk as drivers could possibly not slow down through the slip lanes.

"The details really matter on slip lanes, they really matter," Stone said. "At right turn islands, where we pull the, in and make them angled, that matters because where the pedestrian crosses, you can make them very safe. They can be more safe than just having a radius on a normal intersection."

The other interchange and outer road recommendations included:

  • Providing collector/distributor roads between Providence and Rangeline with the possibility of a new interchange from Parker Street.
  • Changing an outer road off Stadium Boulevard from Interstate 70 Drive SW to Bernadette Drive.
  • Widening the St. Charles interchange overpass and/or relocating the eastbound ramp and south outer road to connect to Bull Run Drive.

Columbia Mayor Barbara Buffaloe will send a proposal letter with all the recommended projects to MoDOT for approval and funding before construction can begin on I-70.

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