I just read a story this morning about a new Interstate 90 Bridge being built in Minnesota. Cycling and pedestrian groups are pressing for the new bridge to include a bike/pedestrian path.
"The Minnesota Department of Transportation says a bike or pedestrian lane on an Interstate bridge won’t work for a variety of reasons, among them cost, environmental impacts, aesthetics and safety concerns."
The Minnesota DOT is blowing smoke. Yes it will cost a little more, but nowhere near as much as a few years down the road when people start wishing they had such a bike/foot path and they think about retro-fitting one.
Here in Charleston, South Carolina, they built a beautiful new bridge over the Cooper River that opened in 2005. (Pictured above.) Initially it too had no planned provision for cyclists or pedestrians, but the local people got organized, signed petitions, and got the planners and people in charge to change their minds.
The bridge was built with a separate path about 12 feet wide on one side of the bridge only. It really is not that difficult, all bridges have steel beams that go cross-wise to support the roadway, it is just a matter of extending those beams on one side to support the bike path. They do not have to redesign the whole bridge.
Here in Charleston there is a wonderful organization called “Charleston Moves.” It is a coalition of cyclists, pedestrians and people pushing for public transport. I would urge the people who live in the area of this proposed bridge to combine their effort; there is strength in numbers.
Don’t let the nay sayers tell you it can’t be done, and even though work is due to start next year; it was quite late in the planning stages when the bike path was added to our bridge.
Everyone who lives in Charleston is very proud of their new bridge; it is a structure of immense beauty. However, without the bike/pedestrian path it would be just another freeway bridge.
Walking the bridge has now become one of the “Must Do” things for tourists visiting our city. The views from the bridge are breathtaking, and you don’t even see these vistas driving over on the freeway. They had the good sense to put the path on the side with the best views of the harbor and downtown Charleston.
Many people work in Down Town Charleston, but live in Mount Pleasant on the other side of the river. Parking is a nightmare in historic Old Town Charleston with its narrow streets. The new bridge is just 2 ½ miles across, easy enough to bike or even walk across to work; many do just that.
Prior to this new bridge being built the river crossing was via two old steel bridges. There was no bike/pedestrian access, and no way to get over the Cooper River other than by car. The new bridge with its bike path means that whole new areas for local cyclists to ride were opened up for people living on either side.
You can cross over the Cooper River Bridge quite late into any evening and you will see people walking, running or cycling on the path. It is much more than a means to drive from one side to the other; it is a facility enjoyed by thousands during the course of a year.
If left to the planners it never would have happed; it came about because of local people getting together and making it happen.