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Columbia's elevated tree canopy walk would be costly and with little purpose [Letter]

CA needs to think through the proposed elevated tree canopy walk for the Inner Arbor Plan. The reality is that during construction the contractor will clear cut trees for a 25- to 50-foot right-of-way along the walkway route for construction vehicle access and delivery of materials and for underground utilities (electric power, fire plugs water line, sewer line). Then a 25-foot-wide permanent paved or gravel emergency and maintenance access road will need to be built along the cleared right-of-way.

ADA and county codes will require handicapped access via elevators at both ends of the walkway, an expensive first cost and ongoing maintenance cost. Emergency escape and rescue stairways will be required at the ends and along the route of the walkway.

Evenly spaced steel or concrete columns will support the walkway structure above. Each column will require a concrete foundation in the ground. The walkway structure must be designed for wind resistance and against falling trees. A barrier (usually ugly) must be installed to keep people from throwing things or themselves or others down from the walkway.

After construction continuous policing and security camera monitoring will be needed daytime and especially at night to keep intruders off the walkway. (Think the Route 29 bridge.) The walkway has limited use only during dry and calm weather and certainly not in winter.

Maintenance for exposed structures and elevators is expensive and ongoing. Insurance coverage is a continuing expense. Will an entry fee be charged or free for the public?

Finally, what is the purpose of the elevated walkway? It doesn't go anywhere or cross over any barrier. In this uniform woods there is really no special view that is better seen or enhanced from above. Part of the view is of building roofs, a garage, a bridge and a driveway. The elevated walk separates people from enjoying nature on the ground, with the freedom to wander around with family and friends, not in a parade "above it all" and restricts people to a pre-determined route boring after the first visit.

Robert Tennenbaum

Columbia

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