Report: Bridge Columbia Faces New Roadblock

Tell us in comments: Do you support the idea of a new bridge to connect Oakland Mills to downtown Columbia?


Proponents of Bridge Columbia will have to overcome the latest setback in their efforts to build a new bridge over Route 29 that would connect Oakland Mills and downtown Columbia.

According to Explore Howard, the development company Howard Hughes found that a new bridge wouldn't be used enough to warrant its expense, according to testimony in front of the County Council by John Powell, office of transportation administrator in Howard County.

Do you support the bridge, or do you think the cost outweighs the benefits? - Tell us in the comments.

Howard Hughes wouldn't comment on the study because it has not been approved by the county, according to Explore Howard.

Bridge Columbia, the group pushing for a new bridge, estimated the cost of a new bridge would be between $15 million and $20 million. The proposed bridge would replace the current caged-in pedestrian walkway over Route 29, with a larger bridge that would include a bus lane and more space for bikers and pedestrians, according to Bridge Columbia's proposal.

Earlier this year, the county approved $100,000 of county funds and $500,000 from Howard Hughes to conduct a study to see if the bridge was necessary.

Explore Howard reported the county will conduct another study, which will conclude in four to six months, to look at how the bridge would effect jobs, residents and property values in the area.

Supporters previously said a new bridge would promote public transportation and provide a more usable, attractive bridge over Route 29.

“If you use the bridge as a pedestrian or a bicyclist, you feel really threatened when you’re on it,” Fred Gottemoeller, an architect and engineer who supports Bridge Columbia, said in March. “It’s one of those environments that appears to be out of control.”

Cathy Eshmont previously wrote on Patch that the bridge was a "nice to have" and not a necessity.

"I’m troubled that ‘looks unsafe’ and is ‘ugly’ is being used as the reason to spend a lot of money when verified problems are unresolved,” wrote Eshmont.

In an informal poll on Patch conducted in March, 57 percent of respondents said there were more pressing needs at the moment to spend county funds on other than the bridge.

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Matt M September 18, 2012 at 04:35 PM
Let's hope this study is correct and we don't need to replace a little-used (but viable) bridge with a brand new more expensive bridge. Promoting public transportation is an odd label to hang on this boondoggle. There are many other public transportation options to reach the area around Columbia Mall...like the Gold Route that runs from Oakland Mills area to the Columbia Mall on 175, or the Silver Route that runs down Broken Land Parkway to the Mall. Actually, it appears most of the Howard Transit routes have Columbia Mall as a stop. So what public transit improvement are we talking about?
barry blyveis September 19, 2012 at 11:59 AM
A judgment cannot be made unless we are told exactly how many people use the bridge. And how many of those lack cars or are too young to drive.
taximom4 November 21, 2012 at 01:13 PM
I'm not convinced a new bridge where a bus MIGHT cross in the next hour is a reason to build a new bridge. And "lacking car" or "too young to drive" is not a reason not to have a safe bridge. Dont we want to promote more walking, less car driving? I would want to see the study but more importantly, will the study find ways to make whatever is decided more safe? i dont see how the new bridge would really be safer nor am i sure how to make the old bridge safer. where are the safety experts? Dont care about usage experts at this point - more safety. People would stroll and not take cars if they could be safe, IMHO.


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