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.
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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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