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Columbia City Council holds public hearing on $12.3 million Forum Boulevard project


The Columbia City Council authorized the Forum Boulevard improvement project on Tuesday night.

The hearing lasted over and hour with the majority of residents who spoke raises some concerns about the project. Issues ranged from noise complaints to pedestrian and biker safety. One concern that was raised by council members and residents alike was cars speeding in the area. Wilson Fitness Vice President, JamesDean Abrams was one of several residents who took issue with the plan.

"Engineers told us the 13-hour traffic study of 283 pages defines the demand of the this corridor yet speed wasn't addressed therefore safety wasn't addressed," Abrams said during the meeting.

Council members made several suggestions to the plan but ultimately decided to move forward with it.

The meeting was initially scheduled for Monday but was postponed because the city failed to post a physical copy of the agenda in the first-floor hallway of City Hall, as required by city code, a Monday press release from the city stated. Construction on the project would begin in the summer of 2026, according to the council meme.

The proposed project would cost $12.3 million and includes adding a driving lane heading in both directions, sidewalks and a bike lane on both sides of the road; and either fixing or replacing the bridge over Hinkson Creek.

Some intersections and entrances will also be upgraded to improve traffic safety in the corridor. New roundabouts were also proposed on Katy Lane and Woodrail Avenue to help control traffic.

The city has also proposed upgrading the intersection of Forum Boulevard and Chapel Hill Road by adding a thru lane at Chapel Hill Road to allow for "simultaneous left turns for the east-west traffic movements and pedestrian refuge islands." The city partnered with Engineering Surveys and Services to plan and design the project. 

Columbia began planning design work for the Forum Boulevard project late in 2022. In November 2022, cameras were set up on stoplights to study traffic flow. What they found were backups at businesses and side streets, cars having to wait nearly three minutes to make a right-hand turn, and congestion at intersections. 

Funds for the project come from the quarter-cent sales tax proposal back in August 2015, which left funding for capital improvement projects.

Columbia Public Works held an open-house-style meeting at Forum Christian Church on Nov. 30 to show the results of the study and listen to feedback from the public.

According to the council memo, 86 people attended the meeting and 79 people sent in written comments. The city says that most of the feedback was in support of the project but there were some complaints ranging from potential noise to damage to nearby trees.

The council will also be calling for a special election in Ward 1 on Aug. 6, to elect a new council member after former Ward 1 Councilman Nick Knoth was recalled.

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Mitchell Kaminski

Mitchell Kaminski is from Wheaton, Illinois. He earned a degree in sports communication and journalism from Bradley University. He has done radio play-by-play and co-hosts a Chicago White Sox podcast.


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