COLUMBIA - Construction workers began the process Monday to tear down the pedestrian walkway over Providence Road near Park Avenue. The Providence Crosswalk at Park Avenue project will include a new pedestrian crosswalk at street level, new center medians and the permanent removal of the existing pedestrian bridge over Providence Road.
The city's Non Motorized Transportation fund, assisted by Getabout Columbia, paid the program's total cost of $203,872. Columbia residents and community leaders are torn over the removal of the bridge. Former First Ward Council Representative Almeta Crayton said, "Only people who live here understand why that bridge needs to be down. That bridge has been unsafe for over 30 years. The city never asked the community if they even wanted the bridge there, not to mention all of the crime that goes on that bridge."
But some former residents are upset the bridge is coming down. Former resident Elaine Curren wrote on Facebook, "It's not just a bridge, it's a historical monument. I might have to come back to Columbia and start a petition/movement "save our bridge" ... I haven't been on it in probably 20 years."
The bridge has been the proper path for 30 years for pedestrians to get from one side of Providence Road to the other. But many chose to J-walk rather than climb the stairs to use the walkway. In August 2012, the Douglass Park Neighborhood Association held an open forum with members of the Getabout Columbia. At the forum, members of the community gave feedback about what they would like to see during the construction process.
Secretary of the Douglass park Neighborhood Association, Tyree Byndom, said some of the suggestions were taken to heart, but not all. "We would like to see minority contractors; we would like to see an indigenous process; we would like to see some type of way to let the community know about it." One aspect Byndom said should not be forgotten is the historic value, "There is a historic nostalgic attachment that people in this community have to that bridge."
All construction should be completed by spring of 2013, weather permitting.