City, county discuss Stadium Drive project

This aerial map shows plans for a roundabout and additional lanes at the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Jefferson Street.

This aerial map shows plans for a roundabout and additional lanes at the intersection of Stadium Boulevard and Jefferson Street.

Jefferson City and Cole County officials are planning the next big project for the area, designed to address traffic congestion at U.S. 54 and Stadium Boulevard.

At the Public Works and Planning Committee meeting Thursday, city and county officials heard a traffic study presentation on Stadium Boulevard, Jefferson Street, Christy Drive and Monroe Street done by George Butler Associates, or GBA, of Kansas City. The study was done in preparation of road improvements at U.S. 54 and Stadium Boulevard, planned for next summer.

The plan would make Monroe a two-way street from Woodlawn Avenue to Stadium, with a traffic signal planned at Monroe and Stadium, and widening Stadium to make it five lanes for left-turn pockets.

On the other side of U.S. 54 at the Jefferson and Stadium intersection, a dual-lane roundabout would be put in with a right-hand slip lane coming off the U.S. 54 exit ramp through Stadium to Christy Drive. There would also be widening of Stadium back to the Trinity Lutheran Church driveway.

The improvements are proposed in anticipation of the Capital Region Medical Center expansion with hopes of relieving congestion issues in the area during the morning commute.

But Cole County commissioners expressed some concerns the planned improvements won’t address the core issue that causes traffic to back up on U.S. 54.

The commission also met Thursday morning with the committee to hear the presentation. Western District Commissioner Kris Scheperle said the dual-lane roundabout may confuse young drivers, who are likely to be in the area on their way to and from the Jefferson City High School.

“This double roundabout looks like a disaster,” Scheperle said. “This would be confusing to me.”

Paul Bertrand, with GBA, said the roundabout is designed so drivers have to travel at low speeds, making the dual lanes much easier to handle.

Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger said the ultimate problem is the Christy Drive intersection at Stadium Boulevard. If the light is too close to the roundabout, then traffic will continue to back up and the problem will go unsolved even after spending millions.

“We may have to take a step back,” Ellinger said. “And look at a global solution.”

Ultimately, both the committee and the commission said they would support the city staff to negotiate a design contract for the project, though Ellinger specified more discussion would be needed on the core concept of the project.

Public Works Director Matt Morasch said this is the last major joint project between the county and city to be done with current capital improvement sales tax money. The current estimate on the project is $4.1 million, though the concept could change as the process moves forward.

In other business, the committee also approved a proposed transit advisory committee, which will now go to the full City Council for review. It was the second committee to put its stamp of approval on the proposal; the Council Committee on Administration approved the ordinance earlier this month.

The ordinance would create a public transit advisory committee, an idea that was first brought to the council by the Citizens for JeffTran group in spring 2013. According to the proposed ordinance, the committee would consist of seven members: one from the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce, one who regularly uses public transit, one who is employed by a public or private school or by a not-for-profit organization, and four members of the general public.

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