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Jefferson City neighborhood concerned about new St. Mary’s Hospital traffic

A Jefferson City neighborhood voiced its concerns about the new St. Mary’s Hospital location in a meeting Saturday morning.

At least 30 people from Yorktown Drive and Rolling Hills Drive joined three council members, a city engineer, a Jefferson City police officer and Brent VanConia, president of St. Mary’s Hospital, to discuss the problems they say come with the hospital’s new location.

When the hospital opens on November 16, the neighborhood will provide a direct connection to the new facility that neighbors of the hospital believe will be abused.

“I don’t believe that gate ought to be open,” said one resident. “Our streets are not big enough for that kind of traffic. There’s kids that ride their bike, they play ball and I think the people ought to have a say about it. It’s our street. If you want to make it a commercial entrance to the hospital, buy us out and you can do whatever you want with the street.”

City leaders conducted two traffic studies in May and August to determine the neighborhood’s current traffic pace. According to their research, no more than 40 cars come through the neighborhood at the peak points of the day, and the majority of them drive the speed limit.

That’s why Royal Speidel, who lives on Yorktown Drive, decided to bring neighbors together to meet with city and hospital leaders. Speidel fears his neighbors will move away if the traffic becomes a problem.

“Increased traffic brings what?” Speidel asked. “More noise, more potential for accidents and more potential for crime.”

Both city and hospital leaders agreed it’s too early to tell what might happen and anticipate heavier use from Highway 179 onto Mission Drive. However, leaders did not deny that drivers might use the neighborhood as quicker route to get to the highway and back.

Britt Smith, an engineer with Jefferson City, said, “What we would do is, not unlike any other engineering problem, we’d analyze the problem and come up with a host of solutions.”

Smith said those solutions might be anything from speed humps to strategic stop sign placement, but there must be a problem to initiate the changes.

“At this time really, we’re speculating on the volume of traffic in this neighborhood,” said VanConia. “As being part of their neighborhood, I look forward to working with them to help mitigate their concerns.”

City leaders plan to do another traffic study of the area next April or May. Based on that study, they can compare it to the current studies and determine the best adjustments if needed.

The neighborhood already made one change to prepare for heavier traffic. Speidel said a Jefferson City police officer that lives in the neighborhood started parking his vehicle along the street in hopes of deterring any speeding.

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