Residents Have Mixed Feelings About Clark Lane Project

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Works invited the public to look at design concepts for its Clark Lane Non-Motorized Improvement Project Wednesday evening.

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The project would include widening the road five feet on both sides as well as restriping the road to include 11-foot wide lanes and six-foot wide shoulders. It would cost the city $400,000 to $600,000.

However, Victor Chapman, a resident of Clark lane, said widening the road is not enough to protect pedestrians and suggests sidewalks should come first, "We want sidewalks now, not later." Chapman said he's seen how dangerous it can be, "I'm the one who started this early on, getting sidewalks up there, because we need it bad, I've seen almost three accidents."

Columbia resident Mike Shepherd said although he is concerned about pedestrian safety, he thinks widening the road would ease traffic along Clark lane.

"What is the plan regarding more than just the pedestrians?" he said. "I want the pedestrians to be safe, but I also think the traffic needs to flow smoothly. And my thought was, use some of this plan to put in a third lane in the center for a turning lane to give the traffic turning across traffic a way to move and not hold up the rest of the traffic."

Public works is planning to add both sidewalks and a turn lane, but Scott Bitterman, street engineering manager for Columbia Public Works, said it will not happen for another few years, "Concurrently, we are working on a complete street improvement of the same facility [Clark lane]. We're working on that with MODOT. The complete street would have a center turn lane, left turn lanes would be the center turn lane, it would have bicycle lanes and sidewalks. We're working on all those improvements at the same time, that would be about a $6.5 million dollar improvement. The soonest we could get something like that completed would be the end of 2017 as long as funds are available."

Although Columbia Public Works could install sidewalks now, Bitterman said it would be a waste of taxpayer dollars, "We think that would be a foolish use of the public's money because any sidewalk we put in today would have to be ripped out when we do that future roadway project."

The public has until November 20 to submit comments on the project to public works. There will be a public hearing on December 16.