The Columbia City Council directed staff to move ahead with plans to put in more than 2,000 feet of sidewalk on the east side of Sinclair Road between Southampton Drive and Nifong Boulevard.
According to a staff memo, the preliminary design will include about 1,300 feet of 5-foot-wide sidewalk with grass parkway along the northern end. There will also be about 1,300 feet of 6-foot-wide sidewalk with integral curb toward the southern end of the project because of the terrain.
The preliminary plans are attached to this story.
On Jan. 23, five residents attended an interested party meeting. One person provided a written comment.
Mike McMillen wrote that the sidewalk was too close to the road near Southampten. He said that wasn’t safe for children walking or riding bikes to school.
Mill Creek Elementary School is on the north end of Sinclair. There will be a new middle school built just south of Southhampton Drive.
McMillen attended Monday night’s council meeting, and again expressed his concern that a 5 ft. setback was too close to the road.
“I think it proposes a safety hazard,” he told council members. “When you have 40 mph traffic through there with no buffer, I just see possibilities of a disaster.”
He suggested a 2 or 3 ft. retaining wall.
Council decided to move ahead with the project as presented, with no changes. Matt Pitzer, who represents the ward this project will happen in, said it wasn’t a perfect solution but it’s the best solution at this time to make sure the new middle school has sidewalks nearby.
“I wish we had been able to work more closely up front with the school district and identifying sites that either had safety infrastructure in place in terms of improved roads and sidewalks, or coordinate more closely to get that in,” he said.
Public Works Director Dave Nichols told council that they don’t have any safety concerns at this time. He cited several sample projects that feature the same distances from the street.
He listed Ballenger Road and mention there will be shoulders next to the pavement. He also said they did a section of Clark Lane, and were successful in a safety aspect despite no curb or separation there.
Councilman Ian Thomas said he was okay with a 6 ft. sidewalk attached to the curb.
Staff said it will do a study to see if the speed limit along that road needs to be changed.
Construction is scheduled to be done during the summer of 2020 while the new roundabout at Nifong Boulevard and Sinclair Road is being constructed. It should cost about $300,000. Columbia Public Schools plans to contribute the actual cost of the project in exchange for land for a park.