Ulman Proposes $600,000 for Route 29 Bridge

The funds would pay for a feasibility study and initial construction on a new Route 29 bridge.


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.

Robert LaJeuness April 02, 2012 at 07:14 PM
Maybe the county should use this money to modernize Howard Transit, make it smart trip/charm card assessable. Increase the frequency of service on certain routes, and also expand the bus serves hours and days.
Anne April 09, 2012 at 06:18 PM
Let's see. Ullman fulminates against the state's proposal to shift ONLY PART of the pension funding for educators to the counties in which they teach & yet he is very eager to spend $100,000 in County funds to study the feasibility of building a bridge between Oakland Mills & Town Center in hopes of achieving WHAT? Oakland Mills has turned into a center of low income housing & concomitant socio-economic problems so a new bridge will only serve to spread those very problems to the Mall & to the Town Center neighborhood. Has it escaped everyone's notice that there is already bus service between the Mall & Oakland Mills via BOTH the Red & Brown lines? As to the pedestrian bridge being an eyesore, the chain link over the walkway is to prevent pedestrians from throwing projectiles onto oncoming traffic!
Peter Tocco April 10, 2012 at 02:09 AM
Bridge Columbia's bridge doesn't just serve Oakland Mills,it serves the downtown growth plan, & thus all the villages. Columbia has never come together as a city with a downtown. The Bridge would make that happen, in tandem with the downtown development plan. The $ spent by the County for would be just a small fraction of the total. This is planning at its best, where a small cost by the County is leveraged into a much larger cost. With this bridge HoCo can set the wheels in motion toward the kind of urban space that is seen in places like Copenhagen, Madison WI, or Vancouver. Granted, we are years away, but once the core infrastructure is in place, investors will be sure to follow. It's a proven fact that people nowadays are seeking out walkable, livable urban spaces, not gridlock and parking lots. As for income differences, those are normal in urban spaces. You mention Columbia already has a bus service. Yes, it might take you an hour of waiting and riding to get downtown. I say Columbia is going to have to grow up some day and become urban. This Bridge will make the transition a smooth one! Columbia has the rare opportunity, with its parks and trails, of having the best of all worlds. I say let's do it! Peter Tocco www.bridgecolumbia.org
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