Providence Road pedestrian bridge to be removed despite snow

Friday, February 22, 2013 | 6:55 p.m. CST; updated 4:23 p.m. CST, Saturday, February 23, 2013

COLUMBIA – The pedestrian bridge between Douglass High School and the J.W. "Blind" Boone Community Center will be dismantled tonight, with a viewing area designated for those who want to watch.

Providence Road between Ash and Worley streetswill close from 7 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Saturday morning at the latest, according to the Department of Public Works.

Crews will be on hand to monitor road detours around the bridge on Providence Road:

  • From southbound Providence, the detour goes west on Worley to Garth Avenue, south to Ash, then east back to Providence.
  • From northbound Providence, the detour goes east on Ash to Fifth Street, north to Worley and west back to Providence.

These streets have been cleared of snow, according to a department press release.

Brett Dudenhoeffer, project manager with the construction firm handling the demolition, said the bridge would probably start coming down between 9 and 10 p.m., although he said it was hard to estimate.

The public can watch from a viewing area on Park Avenue just west of Providence.

Workers will detach the bridge from its bolts using cranes, then break it in two and carry it down the street, Dudenhoeffer said.

The bridge is being replaced with a signal light-equipped crosswalk on Providence Road, an effort to improve pedestrian safety in the area.

The bridge has been a source of controversy in the First Ward for years as ugly, inaccessible and unsafe. First Ward Councilman Fred Schmidt called it "urban renewal gone awry."

“They shouldn’t have put the bridge up anyway when the community said they didn’t want it,” former First Ward Councilwoman Almeta Crayton said.

Crayton and others said they thought the new crosswalk would not be an improvement, either.

“I think it’s actually dumb for the city to take it down,” resident Michael Whitley said after successfully jaywalking across Providence, less than a block down from the bridge. “(Crosswalks) aren’t always safe.”

Osama Adam, who moved to the area six months ago, said he had never used the overpass, but probably wouldn’t use the crosswalk, either. 

“Hopefully it’s for the best, that’s all I can say,” Adam said.

Columbia Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus, who supports the change, said the crosswalk would improve safety and beautify an entrance to downtown.

“We have a very pedestrian community right here in the heart of Columbia, and we need to recognize that pedestrians should have good access (to crossings) in their own communities,” Steinhaus said.

For example, going to Douglass Park used to be difficult, he said, because pedestrians had to walk all the way to Worley or Ash streets to cross at a signal-equipped intersection.

“(The overpass) served its purpose in the day that it was constructed,” Steinhaus said. “(Now) it’s kind of obsolete."

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

MAP: Pedestrian walkway to be demolished

Columbia Public Works will remove the pedestrian bridge at the J.W. "Blind" Boone Community Center on Friday night, despite the snow. Providence Road between Ash and Worley streets will close from 7 p.m. Friday until 9 a.m. Saturday at the latest. The department says all detour routes are safe and passable. (Graphic: Travis Hartman)

View Providence Road bridge demolition in a larger map

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