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      Public hearing set on Providence Road overpass

      Updated 10 p.m.:

      The Columbia City Council has decided that a public hearing is set for April 19 at 7:00 p.m. to discuss the Providence Road pedestrian overpass.

      Original story:

      Columbia City Council members are one step closer to replacing an old pedestrian bridge with a pedestrian crosswalk.

      City officials say the pedestrian overpass on Providence Road does not meet the needs of the disabled, lacks lighting and is seldom used.

      It TMs been around since the early 1970 TMs.

      Charles Cooper and his two grandsons are some of the few that still use the pedestrian crossing on Providence Road near Douglass High School. Cooper says he uses the bridge about five times a week and disagrees with a plan to replace it at a cost of about $300,000.

      Cooper said, I don TMt think it would be a good idea. This bridge serves a good purpose. Why replace it with something else that is very expensive. It would cost more money when the money could go to another project.

      The $22 million of federal grant for "GetAbout Columbia" was to promote hiking and biking, and would pay for the removal of the old bridge and the construction of a new pedestrian crossing.

      Douglass High School Principal Brian Gaub said he would like to see the old bridge go because it is seldom used and often vandalized with graffiti.

      The Columbia Housing Authority owns the bridge. CHA leaders say it is time to say goodbye to the concrete structure.

      Housing Authority CEO Phil Steinhaus said, It TMs not the prettiest bridge in town. It would create a more beautiful entryway into our community with a landscaped pedestrian island here and make it safer for the whole community.

      While dozens of pedestrians continue to dodge traffic rather than use the bridge, council members plan to have several public hearings before any demolition or construction takes place.

      Council members are also considering the option of building a new overpass on Providence Road closer to Hickman High School.