New Detour Frustrates Drivers Headed to Columbia Regional Airport

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COLUMBIA- Starting as early as Friday, those on the way to Columbia Regional Airport will have to take a new, longer detour to reach their flights on time.

The Missouri Department of Transportation announced the new detour on Wednesday, which would add about one more mile to the already six-mile detour currently in place.

MoDOT's new detour will force drivers to take a left on East Angel Lane, then a left on South Hardwick Lane, which will eventually take them back to Route H.

Jill Stedem, the Columbia Public Works public information specialist, said drivers will have to take this new route until construction of the Route H interchange is complete.

But that may be another year. The $9.8 million project isn't supposed to be completed until the fall of 2012.

Blake Borron didn't immediately recognize the detour when he was on the way to the airport last week. He and his girlfriend left 45 minutes before their flight, which he said is generally plenty of time to get there.

"Basically we went about 15-20 minutes past Columbia Regional not realizing the turn-off wasn't there where it was supposed to be, where it had been before," Borron said. "I was freaking out and was like oh my god, we're going to miss our flight! We're going to have to take one at 5:30 the next morning!"

Borron turned around and followed the detour down a long, country road and was fortunately able to make his flight just in time. But he said he couldn't believe how out of the way the detour took him.

"I mean people are going to be unilaterally late for their flights if they're coming from Columbia. They're not going to know where to go. It's easier if you're coming from Jeff City-it says there's a detour, there's signs. But it's Columbia Regional Airport, so I would expect a little bit better for people coming from Columbia."

The shortest and most direct route to the airport is actually taking East Angel Lane for a little over a mile and a half to South Airport Drive, but MoDOT can't instruct Columbia drivers to take that road since it is owned by Ashland, not Columbia.

Click here to see a map of the detour area.