Newly-constructed Maguire Boulevard open to traffic

The extension connects Stadium Boulevard to Lemone Industrial Boulevard.
Sixth Ward Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe and Mayor Bob McDavid are joined by ambassadors and several supporters as they cut the ribbon during the ceremonial opening of Maguire Boulevard on Monday afternoon. The newly opened road intersects with Stadium Boulevard and provides an alternate route to Lemone Industrial Boulevard.

Although cars have been running up and down the street since Friday, the construction of Maguire Boulevard in south Columbia wasn’t finished until the ceremonial gold ribbon fell away from a pair of oversize black scissors Monday afternoon.

Several residents and city officials gathered to celebrate the opening of the new road, which connects the east end of Stadium Boulevard to Lemone Industrial Boulevard. Attendees cheered and clapped as Keri Tipton, an ambassador with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce, cut away the ribbon after several city officials addressed the small crowd.

“To say it lightly, the construction of Maguire Boulevard was a challenge,” City Manager Bill Watkins said at the ceremony. “This project, as you know, connects important economic drivers in our community by improving road access.”

Watkins said the project had been hampered by an unseasonably wet spring and summer, which limited working days and repairs to a bridge abutment that took an additional three to four weeks.

He also said the opening of the road marked the completion of the first phase of connectivity improvements in the area. He said the city will extend Macguire to New Haven Boulevard via Warren Drive. He said there is currently no funding for the project, but the funding will be considered in the next three to five years.

“Together, these projects, I think, will greatly improve functioning of the U.S. 63 interchange with New Haven,” he said. “Better connectivity to U.S. 63, in my opinion, is critical to the economic growth and livability of Columbia.”

Mayor Bob McDavid also spoke at the ceremony to praise the road, which cost $6.9 million, $4.1 million of which came from a one-quarter cent capital improvement sales tax. He said the extension, which includes two bridges over the north and south forks of the Grindstone Creek, sidewalks and bike lanes, helps the city market the Lemone Industrial area to large employers.

“Whether it’s technology or transportation, connectivity is vital to economic growth,” he said. “The fact that this transportation improvement was underway gives us a big advantage in marketing this location to IBM.”

The extension is located in southeast Columbia, starting about a mile east of the MU campus. Sixth Ward City Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe, whose ward encompasses the extension, praised the project for limiting environmental disturbances to the creek and its watershed. She cited the placement of the bridges in places where the flood plains are narrowest to minimize disruptions.

“Land is valuable, and natural land, which is beautiful and supports nature, is priceless,” she said. “Not only do we owe the landowners our gratitude, we must show our respect by being good stewards of the land.”

Watkins said the city will continue to work on water basins, which catch runoff from the street, but said the road was ready for traffic.

“For the citizens who have waited more than long enough, I felt we should open up the roadway, and we can work the rest of the project while traffic is in place,” he said.

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