Excerpts from the Bridge Columbia-Transitway Feasibility Study Draft Report (March 8, 2018 - KFH Group, Inc. for the Howard County Office of Transportation)  

FOBC Comment: Unfortunately this extensive and comprehensive document is not currently available online.  It may be obtained by request to bridgecolumbia@gmail.com. Much of this document is quoted in Chapter 7 of the Central Maryland Transit Development Plan.  FOBC question whether the established thresholds to justify a separate busway  (15 housing units per acre and 75 employees per acre) are appropriate for Columbia which contains large areas of open space separating high density residential areas and destinations which would be connected by the proposed Transitway.  

 

It is consistent with the goals of the Howard County General Plan.

  • It is consistent with the Oakland Mills Village Center Community Plan.

  • It is included in the current Howard County Capital Budget approved by the Council.

  • It is a high priority of County Executive Kittleman.

  • It is consistent with the original transportation plans for Columbia that envisaged a transit way connecting the villages and Downtown. There is a 50-foot right of way available for this project.

  • It is an illustrative highway project in Maximize 2040, the Baltimore region’s constrained long-range transportation plan.

  • FOBC submitted comments to the Baltimore Regional Transportation Board to include the project in the 2016-2019 Transportation Improvement Program. (Letter sent October 11, 2015.)

  • It is a part of the Bike Howard Bicycle Master Plan.

 

Project Description

 

Bridge Columbia will improve connectivity between east and west Columbia through dedicated pedestrian and bicycle lanes and public transit-only access.  The bridge will support local, state and federal sustainability goals and will connect Columbia villages to Columbia’s Downtown commercial center and the new Crescent development, with around 6,500 residential units, new commercial space, and other amenities.   

 

Project Justification

 

This project is necessary to develop an efficient and effective crossing over U.S. Route 29 in Columbia, MD and enhance the new multi-modal path linking Howard County General Hospital and Howard Community College through Downtown Columbia over Route 29 to the Village of Oakland Mills and Blandair Regional Park. The new bridge will shorten transit bus trips across town and provide operating savings. This project also supports several state transportation priorities. Specifically, it:

 

  • Addresses economic development by providing transportation to jobs in Downtown Columbia for the workforce.

  • Supports cycling and walking as modes of transportation by making the route compliant with pathway standards, enhancing safety and security, and eliminating a gap in the Columbia pathway system due to safety and security concerns.

  • Seeks to reduce traffic congestion and the need for parking facilities in Downtown Columbia by improving the transit system and providing for greater sustainability and environmental protection.

  • Supports an important local initiative to redevelop the Village of Oakland Mills.

 

Project Schedule, Budget, & Funding Needs updating!

 

A bridge feasibility study was completed in FY 2015 by URS Corporation (Consultant). The FY2016 Howard County capital budget provides $600,000 for project design and engineering and proposes an additional $750,000 in FY 2017 to complete design and engineering and begin construction. The estimated NEAT cost for the proposed iconic, dual transit lane bridge is approximately $15.0 million. We believe this project will be eligible for federal funding and may qualify for specific discretionary grants such as the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant program.

 

Project Benefits  Needs review

 

  • Accessibility and Mobility — The project provides more transportation choices especially to groups with special transportation needs—seniors, youth, persons with disabilities, non-drivers, and economically disadvantaged populations. The project provides access to major destinations in Columbia that comprise an urban corridor. These destinations include employment, recreational, cultural, educational, government and other facilities. See attached list.

 

   A 2011 study (Downtown Transit Center and Circulator Shuttle Feasibility Study, Nelson Nygaard)

   designated the Oakland Mills neighborhood as an area that could support transit service. It has a

   high population density and concentrations of transit-dependent populations. It is adjacent to the

   commercial and civic development of Downtown Columbia. Greater accessibility to Downtown will

   facilitate multi-modal connectivity and accessibility. A transit center is planned for Downtown that

   will be the hub for local and regional transit as well as bus rapid transit. The new bridge and

   pathways leading up to the bridge will meet current standards for combined pedestrian and bicycle

   facilities and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.

 

  • Environmental Conservation — The proposed bridge will be built adjacent to the existing bridge. Significant new environmental impacts are not anticipated. Friends of Bridge Columbia proposes the use of energy efficient electric buses on the transit-only bridge. The bridge will improve the efficiency of the current transit system by providing a more direct route through Columbia. Easy access to Downtown Columbia via transit will provide an incentive to use transit rather than cars and alleviate congestion and parking problems and protect the environment.

 

  • Economic Prosperity — The bridge project contributes to economic prosperity by providing transportation service to low-income individuals. The shuttle/circulator service that is envisaged will provide reliable and timely access to jobs in Downtown Columbia. It will serve as the linchpin for new development in the Oakland Mills Village Center. This area includes a vacant-lot eyesore, empty storefronts, deteriorating commercial facilities, and aging housing stock. An improved connection to Downtown will foster new development adjacent to the project. Funding assistance will leverage private capital.

 

  . Community/Neighborhood Enhancement — This project will improve the pedestrian and walk environment and create a sense of place. It has the potential to foster public-private cooperation. A private company could provide transit shuttle/circulator service and the private sector could support the projects financially through contributions, sponsorships, advertising and other means.

© 2016 by Friends of Bridge Columbia