In 2009, a pedestrian traffic study (Study) evaluating College Avenue between University Avenue to the north and Rollins Street to the south, was completed. College Avenue, which is also designated MO Route 763 and maintained by MoDOT, is a busy north-south urban arterial with two travel lanes in each direction and an uninterrupted center turn lane. For many years, students populating the neighborhoods to the east of the UMC campus have crossed College between the signals at the intersections of University and Rollins, often stopping the middle turn lane waiting for traffic to clear to complete their crossing. This is a dangerous situation!
“The [study’s] overarching goal was to identify the most effective means of facilitating safer pedestrian crossings and recommend appropriate treatments, as necessary.” While there are pedestrian bridges elsewhere on campus, the study pointed out that due to potential property impacts and the significant number of pedestrian crossings spread along the entire 1,200-LF corridor, that a grade-separated structure was not a preferred solution. Instead, the study recommended channelizing pedestrians to mid-block pedestrian crossings, and to provide havens in the center of the N-S traffic lanes where protection could be provided for pedestrians as they cross the roadway. In addition, pedestrian signals were an option for consideration to allow the crossings to be better controlled. (College Avenue Pedestrian Study - October 6, 2009; prepared for University of Missouri – Columbia by Crawford, Bunte, Brammeier - St. Louis, Missouri).
In 2012, the University and the City of Columbia partnered to apply for a MoDOT-sponsored Transportation Enhancement (TE) grant to construct the improvements recommended by the Study and later that year, were informed the application was successful. In May 2013, the City and University agreed to provide matching funds for the MoDOT TE grant, for a project totaling approximately $824,000. In October 2013, a kickoff meeting was held with the design team selected to define and design the pedestrian safety improvements was given a notice to proceed and is beginning the process of getting input from project stakeholders, impacted residents in the project corridor, and other interested parties.