park and road expansion 10pm

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COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council met Monday night to discuss the purchase of land along Providence Road and potential improvements to traffic flow on the Providence corridor.

The land is located on 32 S. Providence Road and includes a vacant building and parking lot that was previously occupied by McAdams Realty. The land also would allow for expansion at Flat Branch Park.

“This land acquisition is a chance to remake all of Flat Branch Park,” City Councilman Michael Trapp said. “Parks are an economic driver and they’re an important thing that we support even in tough times when we have other needs.”

If approved by the council, the building and lot will be removed and Flat Branch enlarged to restore the creek and bank, improve storm water issues and give clear sight lines throughout the park. It would also provide more space for city activities and give a more attractive gateway into downtown.

The land acquisition would cost the city $1.1 million.

The growth of Flat Branch Park also impacts the road expansion along providence road, but Trapp said the development will not bring in more traffic.

“Flat Branch is not really a destination park for drivers, it’s a downtown amenity for when we do downtown events,” Trapp said. “It serves as a bicycle park, a walking park, a place where some people downtown might have lunch.”

The city council also discussed traffic flow between Stadium Boulevard and Stewart Road along Providence. If approved, improvements to the Providence corridor will consist of moving lights, improving pedestrian infrastructure and adding an extended turn lane on Stadium going South.

“The Providence corridor is rated an F, it’s really the worst traffic that we have in Columbia is that stretch of corridor,” Trapp said.

Last December the council approved a revised version of the Providence Road project, which carried an estimated cost of $6.6 million and included the purchase and demolition of eight historic houses. Neighborhood residents and the city's Historic Preservation Commission protested, prompting the council to reject that plan on a 5-2 vote.