Route H construction delays response times for emergency vehicles

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COLUMBIA—The construction of Route H will cut off emergency vehicles from the main access point to a nearby community.

On Tuesday, Southern Boone County Fire Protection District posted on Facebook that all four phases of the plan will have some kind of impact on response times to residents in the Englewood area.

“If somebody is bleeding or in cardiac arrest, it could mean the difference between life or death,” Southern Boone County Fire Protection District Fire Chief James Bullard said.

The Facebook post also says that the biggest impact on response times will be during the fourth and final phase of the plan. This phase will cause Route H to be closed for over a month. 

Route H currently serves as the main connection point for vehicles to the Englewood community.

“The options are all gravel, rather than Route H,” Bullard said.

“Gravel is slower, we have to slow down the large trucks, and if we have multiple units then the clouds of dust make the, other than the first unit, have to travel in a dust cloud. Which it does reduce visibility and is more unsafe,” Bullard said.

Bullard says in some areas, response times that were four minutes will now take up to six or seven. In other areas, he says response times are now ten to 11 minutes that were once only three minutes.

Englewood residents, Columbia Regional Airport, engineers from Burns and McDonell, and Southern Boone County Fire Protection District reached an agreement over the construction plans back in September. Citizens of the Englewood community had several concerns regarding the original plan for Route H.

“They haven’t considered emergency vehicles getting in and out, school buses picking up children and dropping them off, mail carriers, trash pick-up, anybody that needed to get in and out of our area. We were basically going to be closed off from existence,” Englewood Community Club President Sharon Adams said.

Dave Hadel, the Director of Aviation Services at Burns and McDonnell says the new plan they decided on includes four phases that will keep Route H open longer than the original plan. Route H will now stay open until the fourth and final phase of the new plan.

“It’s not a perfect plan, but we’ve tried to address as many points as we can to keep the people safe and get this done as fast as possible,” Hadel said.

Southern Boone County Fire Protection District posted on Facebook that the contractor has estimated that the completion of the project will take up to Christmas time. The projected completion date and closure times could change based on the weather.