Details on College Ave. medians emerge
The project will be partially paid for by the state.
Oct. 01, 2010
Last week, the Columbia City Council adopted a plan to make College Avenue safer by installing medians and crosswalks aimed at preventing jaywalking injuries and deaths.
A 2009 study by MU researchers, with the goal of finding the best means of safely commuting pedestrians, recorded 11 pedestrian crashes between June 2005 and September 2009. The study concluded that medians and crosswalks were necessary to safely direct the flow of pedestrian and car traffic during busy periods.
The proposal in committee used this study to justify its claims for pedestrian safety and control. The proposal also included the suggestion of using specialized traffic lights, called “HAWK” signals, during especially busy hours. One of the peak times is typically when students are switching classes, according the study.
“You can see students running across College Avenue and standing in the middle of it, waiting to cross,” said freshman Micaela Toombs, who lives in the College Avenue residence hall. "It’s really dangerous.”
The plan, which was proposed by Columbia City Manager Bill Watkins and endorsed by the Bicycle and Pedestrian Commission, would put two extended crosswalks and a landscaped median on College Avenue. The medians and crosswalks would span across College Avenue between University and Bouchelle avenues, according to the plan.
“Columbia will enjoy a safe, interconnected, non-motorized transportation network,” Watkins stated in his report to the City Council.
This part of the road is where many fraternity houses are located, and students tend to run across the street at random locations to get onto campus. According to documents received by the City Council, 3,800 student crossings occur daily in this section of the road.
The medians would channel people toward crosswalks and could also be decorated with plants or grass to look more appealing. They would take over the left turn lane on the north-facing lane.
The crosswalks would be expanded to 15 to 25 feet and painted with brighter street paint to alert drivers when pedestrians are crossing. During heavy traffic times, the HAWK traffic lights would help pedestrians and drivers interact efficiently through various red, green and yellow signals.
“We are excited about it because it will definitely be a safer option for students," Campus Facilities spokeswoman Karlan Seville said. "Cars and pedestrians will be able to be more aware of each other.”
The PedNet Coalition is a local group that advocates for a safer walking environment. The group had no direct comment about the project but supports similar endeavors, spokeswoman Michelle Windmoeller said.
“PedNet advocates for a safe, walkable community to help everyone have access to their destinations," she said. "We encourage students to bike and walk more to class.”
The newly passed fiscal budget granted $2.6 million to District 5, where MU is located, along with $7 million for statewide projects. The total estimated cost of the College Avenue project would be $425,000, with 80 percent being covered by federal grants if the project is accepted.
The proposal also included a walkway connecting Stephens College from southwest to northeast to encourage safe commuting for pedestrians.