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New Lanes, New Look for Old 63, Stadium Intersection

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There's something for pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists in a $1.75 million project underway at Stadium Boulevard and Old 63.

Crosswalks with push-button signals, bicycle lanes and new turn lanes are being added to the intersection in an effort to make the area safer and more accessible for pedestrians and cyclists.

“This intersection is close to campus, and there's student housing along Old 63, so pedestrians currently use the intersection," Allison Anderson, an engineering supervisor in the Columbia Department of Public Works, said. "It's not a safe place to cross right now."

Lawrence Simonson, assistant director of PedNet, a local nonprofit dedicated to creating safe transportation options for pedestrians and cyclists, said the project is important because it will provide pedestrians and cyclists with a safer north-south route.

"There's not a lot of great north-south routes where cyclists and pedestrians feel safe," Simonson said, "and these improvements will make things much safer for them and make the intersection feel like a place where they are supposed to be."

The project was approved in May 2015 and after nearly two years of planning; work began on March 20.

Public comment forms sent to the city were unanimously in support of the project. In the forms, many residents expressed their desire for pedestrian and bicycle accommodations as well as more room for vehicles.

The increased capacity will come in the form of dual left turn lanes for northbound on Old 63 turning westbound onto Stadium along with a right turn lane for westbound vehicles on Stadium turning north onto Old 63.

“Right now that left turn lane backs up, so the double left turn lanes will help move those vehicles faster,” Anderson said. “Plus, extending the right turn lanes will help get the right-turners out of the through traffic lanes.”

The intersection's corners will also receive cosmetic improvements with tree and shrub plantings and native grasses.

Plantings in the northwest and northeast corners of the intersection will be parts of rain gardens, low areas that collect and control storm water by letting it seep into the soil.

Simonson said the plantings will help slow vehicles and signal to drivers that "this is an area where they should expect to encounter pedestrians or people on bikes."

Another part of the project will be new sidewalks that tie into the Hinkson Creek Trail, which leads to Grindstone Nature Area.

“It will provide an easy way for pedestrians and bikes that are on the street to get to the trail,” Anderson said.

Simonson said that having more routes for bicycle and pedestrian traffic benefits the community in two ways: the health benefits of walking or bicycling and fewer vehicles.

"It helps decrease the maintenance of the motor vehicle corridors, because we're pulling people off those roads and letting them get on a bike or on their feet," Simonson said.

Aplex Inc. was selected for the construction. The firm has done work for the city in the past, including the Avenue of the Columns project.

Most of the construction will occur during the day, and if a lane closure is necessary, it will be scheduled for the evening.

The estimated $1.75 million cost will be split by the city and the Missouri Department of Transportation, with the city’s half coming from a 2005 sales tax for capital projects.

Work is expected to be completed by this fall. To get updates, visit www.como.gov/publicworks/stadium-old63.