Columbia Leaders Talk Buses and TIF

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COLUMBIA - Community leaders came together Friday to talk about everything from buses to snow removal.

Several dozen city leaders from the City of Columbia, Boone County, the Columbia Public School Board, and the Columbia Chamber of Commerce discussed a range of items and offered input on the status of current city projects.

A majority of the conversation surrounded the new CoMO Connect bus system. 

The City of Columbia Transit Transportation Director Drew Brooks explained how new GPS technology will track buses in real-time, which will help crews determine efficiency of stops, success of specific locations and provide data for riders to access using mobile apps. 

Brooks also outlined the new routes that will reach more students, both university and K-12, than the old system did. 

Moving forward, Brooks said the transit system will work to relocate shelters, rebrand signs and marketing materials, and conduct training for drivers and staff. The transit system will begin in August.

Next on the agenda was snow removal. Columbia Public Works Assistant Director Dave Nichols and Chet Dunn with Boone County Public Works reviewed the obstacles their crews faced during the storm two weeks ago. Both acknowedged active social media use by crews and the public during the removal.  Nichols said using Facebook and Twitter helped crews find areas that needed extra attention, as well as communicate to the public obstacles crews faced. 

City leaders raised concerns about sidewalk conditions during winter weather and said work needs to be done about the enforcement of clearing residential sidewalks. 

The group then discussed the timeline surrounding the construction of the a new elementary school and improvments to Scott Blvd. in southern Columbia. The new school is expected to open in Fall 2016.

The group also discussed plans for moving forward with downtown infrastructure development. The City Council voted down the addition of a TIF district Monday. City Manager Mike Matthes said the City is creating a situation report to determine how to move forward with downtown development.