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Bridge Columbia News and Views
February 2016
Kittleman Proposes More Funding for Bridge Columbia
The proposed Howard County Fiscal Year 2017 capital budget proposal unveiled in early February provides an additional $750,000 for Bridge Columbia.  Friends of Bridge Columbia (FOBC) is pleased that County Executive Kittleman continues to support the bridge project.  If approved by the Council, it will bring the total appropriated to $1.35 million for planning and design work plus some minor improvements to the existing bridge. 
This is just the first step in a long budget process that will not culminate until May.  The Howard County Planning Board will review new projects in the capital budget in mid- February.  The County Executive will hold a second budget hearing on March 14th and the budget will be sent to the County Council on April 1.  
Support for Bridge Columbia Grows
At the end of 2015, FOBC continued its work to win support for the proposed new bridge connecting Downtown Columbia and Oakland Mills over Route 29 by:
  • Meeting with the new director of the Howard County Planning and Zoning Department, Val Lazdins.
  • Presenting information about Bridge Columbia to the legislative committee of the Howard County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Testifying at the Fiscal Year 2017 citizen's budget hearing to urge continued funding for Bridge Columbia in the Howard County capital budget.
  • Meeting with state Senators Ed Kasemeyer and Guy Guzzone to ask for their help in obtaining grant funding for Bridge Columbia.  Both expressed support for Bridge Columbia.
  • Welcoming the Town Center Village Association as an official supporter of Bridge Columbia.
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Governor's Transportation Plan Disappoints 
At an October hearing, FOBC representative Cathy Spain urged Maryland Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Rahn to support including Bridge Columbia in the statewide Consolidated Transportation Program (CTP).  The CTP, which was released to the Maryland GeneralAssembly on January 20th, does not include Bridge Columbia.  The CTP will be updated next year.  FOBC will continue to urge MDOT and state legislators to include Bridge Columbia in the CTP that it will approve since it is a County-designated priority transportation project.  The CTP is Maryland's six-year capital budget for transportation projects.  
MDOT Secretary Pete Rahn listens to testimony from FOBC and the Oakland Mills Village Board supporting the inclusion of Bridge Columbia in the state's CTP.
New Federal Transportation Funding Law Provides Billions in Financing
Uncertainty about federal transportation funding has been an obstacle in FOBC's efforts to identify funding sources for Bridge Columbia.  On December 4th, President Obama signed the Fixing America's Surface Transportation (FAST) Act into law providing $3.05 billion for transportation projects.  The Act includes a vastly enhanced program of support for transit facilities, a program for which Bridge Columbia would be eligible.

This five-year program is the first law enacted in over ten years that  provides long-term funding certainty for highways, transit and other transportation projects.  This means that state and local governments can move forward with critical transportation projects with the confidence that they will have a federal partner over the long term.  
In This Issue

Bridges that Inspire

The John Seigenthaler Bridge, Nashville, TN
This landmark bridge crosses the Cumberland River in downtown Nashville.  A center lane accommodates bicycles while two elevated boardwalk-style sidewalks welcome pedestrians.  Scenic overlooks feature artistic renderings of the history of life on the river, and an extensive lighting system creates a dramatic effect at night.
Regional Transportation Plan Includes Bridge Columbia
A first step in obtaining state or federal funding for Bridge Columbia is to get a project into the various short- and long-term transportation plans and programs at the regional and state levels.  This year FOBC urged the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board (BRTB) to include Bridge Columbia in its regional Transportation Improvement Program (TIP).
The BRTB recently advised FOBC that Bridge Columbia was not included in the short-term TIP because Howard County feels that the "project is not far enough along in the planning process to merit inclusion in the TIP."  However, the bridge project was included as an Illustrative Project in the November 2015 Maximize 2040--the twenty-year transportation plan for the region that is required to receive federal transportation funding.  Illustrative Projects are those that could be amended into the Maximize 2040 Plan should future funds become available.  It's a small step, but a step in the right direction.
BRTB is the planning organization responsible for coordinating federal funding for transportation in Baltimore city and surrounding counties.  Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman is the BRTB chair.
FOBC Proposes Revision to Bike Master Plan
The Howard County Planning Board voted to recommend that the Howard County Council approve the proposed Bike Master Plan (also known as BikeHoward).  In testimony delivered by FOBC representative Sally Ryder, FOBC gave the overall  plan high marks but strongly objected to the omission of a new pedestrian/bicycle/transit bridge over U.S. route 29 in Columbia.  When County staff sought public input on needed improvements to the Howard County bike network, the Route 29 bicycle/pedestrian bridge was one of the most frequently cited areas for improvement
FOBC is working with the Administration and the County Council to ensure that Bridge Columbia, arguably the most important bike facility in Howard County, is included in the Plan.  The County Council will review the Plan later this year.  
Howard County Planning Board receives community comments about the Bike Master Plan on January 7th . 
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Friends of Bridge Columbia is a grassroots organization that supports a new bridge across Route 29. It will be the centerpiece of a major bike, bus, and pedestrian corridor connecting Howard County Hospital to Blandair Park. Bridge Columbia will be a signature structure, reflecting Columbia's welcoming character and commitment to sustainable living. Follow Friends of Bridge Columbia on Facebook, visit, and email .


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