Howard County Executive Ken Ulman proposed $600,000 for a bridge across Route 29 connecting downtown Columbia to Oakland Mills as part of his $175.3 million capital budget proposal for fiscal year 2013.
The proposal came after residents for a feasibility study to build the bridge last month. Bridge Columbia, a residents’ activist group, set up a website last year to promote building a new bridge over Route 29 that would be more aesthetically pleasing and allow for bus travel over the bridge.
The current bridge accommodates pedestrians and bikers, but has been a for the chain-link fencing that encloses it.
At the budget proposal hearing, Ulman said there was a need for a bridge that would accommodate transit, according to an article in Explore Howard. The $600,000 would fund a bridge study, as well as initial designs and construction, according to the article. Only $100,000 is proposed from bond funds. The other $500,000 is from the developer Howard Hughes Corp., according to Kevin Enright, director of public information for Howard County Government.
Fred Gottemoeller, a bridge engineer and architect involved with Bridge Columbia, said a new bridge with increased traffic from buses and emergency vehicles would cut down on vandalism and create a larger, more inviting space for commuters.
the bridge would create a better connection to Town Center and help revitalize its village center.
Detractors of the bridge proposal said the money could be better spent elsewhere than on the structurally sound bridge.
In March, if Ulman should add funds for the bridge in the FY 2013 budget. Thirty-seven percent, 25 votes, said he should and 58 percent, 29 votes, said there were more pressing needs at the moment.
The County Council will hold a hearing on the proposed budget April 16 at 7:30 p.m. and a work session April 19 at 1 p.m. Both meetings will take place in the George Howard Building in Ellicott City.
Editor's Note: The fourth paragraph has been changed to reflect additional information received after the original was published, not all $600,000 will come from the county budget, $500,000 will come from Howard Hughes Corp.