Posted by Chapin on Feb 10 2010
By Ivan Vamos, Director, NY Bicycling Coalition
The Lake Champlain Bridge Study Advisory Committee met on 2 / 9 / 10 in Addison Vermont, including New York Bicycling Coalition’s representative in attendance. Several very important items that are good news for bicyclists and pedestrians were confirmed at the meeting, however a few of our suggestions were not successful. The old 1928 bridge at Crown Point had to be demolished because of failing abutments, and a new “signature design” bridge with adequate provision for bicyclists and pedestrians is being fast tracked for design and construction.
A ferry system was recently opened up and will continue to serve this strategic lake crossing on a continuing basis until the new bridge is again opened. The ferry is free and is virtually at the same location as the bridge, so plan your Champlain valley bike trips to include an enjoyable ferry crossing this year, and a safe bridge crossing in the years thereafter.
The bridge dimensions that were confirmed at the meeting include 5’ road shoulders that will safely accommodate bikes. Occasionally, the shoulder will also help to get oversized farm equipment across on the 11’ motor vehicle lanes. 5’ sidewalks on each side of the bridge will accommodate pedestrians, or those who walk their bikes across. The high point of the bridge will have more room for a wider sidewalk near the cables holding up the central arch. The new bridge will have a 5% grade; this will be a ½% less steep than the former bridge.
Conversations with DOT staff confirmed that though 4’ shoulders were considered for cost savings, the advisory committee’s input and public comments helped to decide for the safer 5’ shoulders. Marking the shoulders with bike route decals was rejected however, since constrains on land on both sides of the bridge did not allow the pavement markings for continued bike routes. A low guardrail will run the length of the bridge located between the shoulders and the sidewalks. A request to open this guardrail to allow bicyclists to easily stop near the bridge crest to view the scenery and see planned inoperative information could not be satisfied however because of car safety, so bicyclists who wish to stop will have to step over this barrier and lift their bikes over the guardrail to where the sidewalk widens at the cable supports.
We are delighted with NYS DOT and Vtrans response in selecting an excellent team of consultants and in listening to advice and public input that will make the Crown Point Bridge crossing a safe highlight for many bicyclists and pedestrians who visit the region.
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