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Bridge Columbia News and Views
March 2017
Route 29 Bridge Gets Long-Awaited Makeover
County Executive Allan H. Kittleman announced upgrades to the pedestrian and bicycle bridge spanning US Route 29 that will be completed in Spring 2018 at a cost over $1.0 million.  The changes will transform what is widely acknowledged as an eyesore into an iconic landmark for Columbia.   Chain-link fencing will be replaced by a spiraling geodesic tube.   Enhanced lighting and improved police monitoring capabilities will further allay community concerns about the safety and security of the bridge and surrounding pathways.  Work will begin on the bridge in the fall.  

Kittleman called the upgrades  much needed short-term improvements and pledged to work with Friends of Bridge Columbia (FOBC), state officials and the community at large to evaluate longer-term options to improve connections between Downtown Columbia and Oakland Mills.  FOBC supports the improvements announced at a news conference held on the pathway at the west side entrance to the bridge on March 8. 

Fred Gottemoeller, a representative of FOBC, said "Congratulations to Executive Kittleman for taking the first step in this important project. The geodesic tube will make crossing between Downtown and Oakland Mills a fun experience for bikers and pedestrians. We now look forward to seeing transit added to the mix." 

Other speakers praised the improvements and noted benefits beyond the two villages that are located at each end of the bridge-Oakland Mills and Town Center.  Milton Matthews , 

President/CEO of Columbia Association, noted there will be a spillover effect from the redevelopment activities in the Downtown that will benefit and be an impetus for economic redevelopment activities in Owen Brown and Long Reach.  He also predicted that residents and visitors in west Columbia will use the bridge to shop, dine, and recreate in east Columbia.

A video of the news conference is available here
The iconic design will identify Columbia from Route 29.
VOLUNTEERS WANTED
Friends of Bridge Columbia (FOBC) seeks volunteers. 

FOBC is now focused on obtaining support for a new Transitway for Columbia.  The Transitway will provide express bus service from the Gateway office park  to Howard County General Hospital through the heart of Columbia.  

FOBC needs help with our website, newsletter, outreach, and more.  This is an opportunity to give back to the community, learn about County government, meet interesting people, and have some fun along the way.  

Interested?  Contact cathyspain@verizon.net.
In This Issue

Bridges that Inspire

Bridge Columbia, Columbia, MD
Finally!  The pedestrian bridge connecting east and west Columbia will be a bridge that inspires.  With a bright, airy covering, it will be a pleasure to walk or bike.  As an iconic structure visible from Route 29, it will identify Columbia as a community committed to sustainability.
The chain link cage of the current bridge will be replaced with a colorful, open, spiral geodesic design.  Improved lighting and cameras will increase safety.

Transit Option for Bridge Being Explored
The public transit option for Bridge Columbia is being seriously explored by Howard County.  A new study would look at the potential for a transitway that would connect Columbia from the hospital to Gateway, with Bridge Columba as the linchpin.  The proposed transitway would use a combination of local roads and transit rights-of-way that would be bus-, bike-, and pedestrian-only.  The idea is to provide a more direct active transit line linking Columbia's primary destinations.  Such a link would provide an advantage to buses, bicyclists, and pedestrians, and allow faster, more direct public transit service.  

This study is being undertaken as part of the Central Maryland Transit Development Plan (TDP) development process, which begins on March 17.  The objective is to gather more information to support a future request for state and federal funding for a transit bridge.  For more information about the TDP and the process to develop it, see the draft consultant report prepared for the County Office of Transportation.

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Friends of Bridge Columbia is a grassroots organization that supports the development of a pedestrian, bike, and bus corridor extending from Howard County Hospital through Downtown to Oakland Mills, Blandair Park, Long Reach and the Gateway Center, with a bridge across U 29 as its centerpiece.  Bridge Columbia will confirm Columbia's and Howard County's commitment to sustainable living and efficient transportation accessible to all.   Follow Friends of Bridge Columbia on Facebook, visit bridgecolumbia.org , and email  bridgecolumbia@gmail.com.
 
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