Public Works Collects Public Comments on Providence Road Project

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COLUMBIA - The Public Works Department collected public comments on ten presented options for the Providence Road improvement project Wednesday night.

More than 100 residents showed up for the public input meeting. City Manager Mike Matthes and some city council members also came to the meeting.

Matthes said he was glad to see so many people interested in the project.

The project's original plan was controversial, which put eight historic houses in danger along Providence Road. Both the Historic Preservation Commission and the Public Works Department have proposed alternatives to save these houses.

Scott Bitterman, street manager for the Public Works Department, said Providence Road and Stadium Boulevard are two of the busiest roads in Columbia, and this project aims to solve some of the traffic concerns.

The department presented ten different options along with their estimated costs. The public was asked to pick one of their favorites and leave any additional comments. Open options include signals at just Turner and Burnam, signals at Rollins and Burnam, a road from Turner to Clarkson, a road from Rollins to Clarkson, or do nothing at all. Some of these options would still affect two houses.

Chris Walthall said she loves her neighborhood, the Grasslands, and she came to make sure that no house around her neighborhood would be taken down. She said her favorite plan is option six, which would add a signal at Burnam Road behind her neighborhood without affecting any nearby houses.

John Shrum, another Grasslands resident, said he does not agree with just tearing down houses for the sake of development.

"The combination of some of the options could be choices. Not necessary one standing alone. I think we should slow down the process just a little bit to gather the information," Shrum said.

The Public Works Department also allows the public to provide comments online before April 3. And it will generate a report in front of the city council on April 15.