When Second Ward Councilman Chris Janku asked the city manager to look into more decorative fence designs for a new bridge, it triggered a request to find a consistent fence design for future bridge projects in Capital Improvement Program areas of Columbia.
In lieu of the chain link fences the city currently uses, the council considered steel bar fences that would cost almost twice as much. The new fence designs, revealed at the City Council meeting March 3, were met with dismay from some council members who said they were hoping for a more decorative design despite the added costs.
“I’m not sure that what we saw was worth the extra money,” Fourth Ward Councilman Jerry Wade said.
Wade said the decorative steel bar fencing was not very attractive at all. At the meeting, he added that he had seen fencing around houses in South Africa that looked like the steel bar design. They were used just for security, not decoration, Wade said.
The request for more decorative fences began after Janku realized that the bridge the city plans to build over Bear Creek when Providence Road is extended would need a large amount of fencing.
“It’s a pretty substantial bridge,” Janku said. “I’d like it to look attractive for the entry way into that part of Columbia.”
The staff-recommended fence consists of vertical steel bars with spaces between each bar. It has a plain steel bar at the top and bottom.
The fence design that the City Council selects will be used to protect pedestrians and bicyclers on new pedestrian bridges in several Capital Improvement Program areas.
The steel-bar fence would cost $150 per linear foot compared to the existing chain link fence, which costs $78 per linear foot. If the city selected the steel bar fencing on the Providence Road project, it would cost $60,000 more than if it used the vinyl chain link fencing for the 430-feet project.
The council members said they wanted to look at more designs with similar or lower prices that offered a more decorative theme.
Janku said the steel-bar design presented to the council at the meeting wasn’t a bad design, but he’s open to new options with equal or more decoration. The council’s main concern is to keep the design consistent throughout the community, Janku said.
Donna Payne, 52, a factory worker, walks over the pedestrian bridge near the intersection of Business Loop 70 East and U.S. 63 at least three times a week. Payne said she doesn’t mind the look of the chain link fences as long as it makes the bridge safer for her to walk across.
“It doesn’t really bother me,” Payne said. “Before there wasn’t a fence and it was just a bridge. It wouldn’t matter if it was different as long as it’s safe.”
In addition to the bridge over Bear Creak, the Capital Improvement Program areas in Columbia that would receive the new fencing are Vandiver Drive over Hinkson Creek; Maguire Boulevard over North and South Fork Grindstone Creek; Scott Boulevard over Hinkson and Mill creeks; Old Route K Outer Road, south of Reactor Park, over Hinkson Creek; and Grace Lane over North Fork Grindstone Creek.