Police to Increase Presence on Route 29 Footbridge

The move comes after two robberies were reported on the bridge in less than a month.

Howard County Police said Friday they would increase patrols on the Route 29 footbridge in Town Center after two robberies were reported in less than a month on the bridge.

A man was reportedly robbed while walking across the Route 29 footbridge around 9 a.m. on Nov. 12 by two suspects who asked the man for a cigarette, then stole his iPhone and wallet, according to police.

Police reported there was no indication the suspects were armed.

The alleged robbery happened less than a month after a woman reported her iPhone was stolen by three suspects on the footbridge around 8:35 p.m. on Oct. 20.

No arrests have been made in either case as of Friday, according to police.

The bridge, which is enclosed by chainlink fencing, provides a link between the lakefront and Oakland Mills. In the past, three murders have occurred near the bridge, and even Columbia Patch's former editor David Greisman, said he was the victim of an attempted robbery on the bridge as a teenager.

Police spokeseperson Sherry Llewellyn wrote in an email that there have been six reports of robberies on the bridge over the last three years.

"As a result of the recent cases, we have increased police presence in the area," wrote Llewellyn. "Residents are reminded that it is best not to walk alone along any pathway at night."

Currently, the bridge is a source of community discussion, as crime on the bridge and its appearance have caused residents to call for a new bridge.

Supporters of Bridge Columbia propose building a $12 to $15 million bridge that would include a bus lane, bike lane and pedestrian sidewalk. The new bridge would also be a visual improvement over the current one, according to Bob Bartolo, an advocate for Bridge Columbia.

"One of the purposes of having transit and pedestrians on the bridge is to put more eyes on the road," said Bartolo on Thursday. "The idea would be crime would be deterred because you wouldn't be able to know when a bus would go by."

Whether the bridge will be approved or not is another matter. In April, County Executive Ken Ulman said he was skeptical about the bridge, but approved $100,000 of county funds for a feasibility study and Howard Hughes, the development company that owns much of downtown, contributed $500,000 for their own study.

In September, a Howard Hughes official told the Howard County Council that there wasn't enough use of public transportation to justify the cost of a new bridge, but at the time the county council had not accepted the company's findings.

Officials at the county did not immediately know on Friday if the company's findings had been accepted.

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JoAnne Y November 19, 2012 at 03:06 PM
Columbia continues to become more unsafe as time goes by. I never used to feel afraid living here but I'm starting to. What's being done about this ever escalating crime wave that's happening here????
John Slater November 19, 2012 at 04:09 PM
“Supporters of Bridge Columbia <http://bridgecolumbia.org/> propose building a $12 to $15 million bridge”. Let that read: Supporters of Bridge Columbia want the COUNTY to fix and upgrade THEIR bridge to make it safe and to bring it into compliance with current national standards for pedestrians and bicycles. Today the existing footbridge is visually a disgrace. Once that is done the County should calculate the additional cost to add transit capability to the bridge. This incremental cost will be substantially less than $12 to $15 million. This will not only make the bridge safer but it will make our community a more sustainable place to live, work and play.
Lynn Jones November 19, 2012 at 07:12 PM
Why build another bridge? Tear down the existing bridge. Save money and it improves safety.
D Sampson November 19, 2012 at 08:16 PM
By the way, whats up with having to drive 20 minutes to go to the store that on the map shows across the street. The worst highway system ever is here. I have traveled all over the country and this is the most inconvenient system ever. Why don't you make bridges on the highway to connect the major street so we can drive easily to the mall instead of re-doing a bridge that everyone is afraid to use, I'd rather drive anyway. I don't want to carry bags walking home, making it slower to run when I'm getting attacked on the bridge.
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