The Missouri Department of Transportation wants to conduct improvements to Interstate 70.

All of its current proposals in Boone County, ranging from Route BB to Route Z, are unfunded except for the partially funded I-70/U.S. Highway 63 connector project.

Since MoDOT is in such a preliminary stage of its Improve I-70 initiative, the department has sought comments from the public and local entities, such as the Columbia City Council.

“I think (MoDOT’s) main goal is there is so much federal money out there, they want to go through this evaluation of the whole (Boone County corridor) so if something comes up, they are more ready to say they have a project ready to go,” said Shane Creech, interim Columbia Public Works director.

The council, after suggested edits by members Monday, will submit a letter to MoDOT with comments on various preliminarily proposed projects.

More: Examining the 3 alternatives being considered for the overloaded 70/63 connector

Discussion of the draft letter took place during a council work session Monday. By submitting the letter, the city will continue to be part of conversations as MoDOT and the Federal Highways Administration plan proposed improvements, said Richard Stone, engineering operations manager with the city.

The letter has comments regarding Scott Boulevard and Stadium Boulevard interchanges; Business Loop 70 West; Providence Road; Rangeline and Parker streets; the 70/63 connector; and St. Charles and Lake of the Woods roads.

Following discussion, the reference to Rangeline will be changed to MO-763 Highway for clarity, since there are both Rangeline Street and Rangeline Road within Boone County.

Based on a suggestion from First Ward council member Pat Fowler, the letter also was updated for MoDOT to reconsider its exclusion of an interchange that would connect I-70 to Scott Boulevard.

“It feels like it needs to be more direct,” she said in support of an interchange at that location.

MoDOT also should consider the housing growth in the northeast part of the city, along with the construction of Battle High School, Fowler said.

“That is what I was trying to get to in the last two bullet points,” Mayor Barbara Buffaloe said, while noting comments in the letter from the city focused on proposed projects only within city limits, but that she would add information on northeast Columbia growth and possible project partnership opportunities at the local, county, state and federal levels.

Comments in the letter included suggestions from The Loop Community Improvement District, Buffaloe said.

The letter also provided a chance to inform MoDOT of the Hinkson Creek Trail extension at the 70/63 connector and the importance of a connection to the Business Loop and Conley Road.

Charles Dunlap covers local government, community stories and other general subjects for the Tribune. You can reach him at cdunlap@columbiatribune.com or @CD_CDT on Twitter. Please consider subscribing to support vital local journalism.

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