A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Monday, October 8, 2007

New Bayside trail funded, Veterans' Bridge connection under discussion

Mirabile dictu, the Maine DOT actually wrote a (small, tardy) check for a project that will actually benefit its surrounding neighborhood this week: a new bike/pedestrian trail that will connect Tukey's Bridge to Deering Oaks through Bayside. The trail's construction will finally put additional private redevelopment activities and real estate deals into motion: read the Press Herald's article here.

Still unresolved are certain elements of the trail's design, including how it will connect with the dangerous and out-of-date sidewalk over Tukey's Bridge. There are already a number of unofficial "desirelines" in this area (see satellite view at left) from pedestrians seeking out the easiest and safest path between the East End neighborhood and the Back Bay or Tukey's Bridge paths.

This could be a great opportunity for the City and MDOT to eliminate the guardrail maze on the Washington Ave. off-ramp and install a safe, user-friendly connection between Bayside, the bridge path, Washington Ave., and the East End. We'll stay tuned...

In other news, there has been a lot of listserve activity on the Portland Bike-Ped Committee's e-mail group regarding the potential for a new bike and pedestrian trail across Veteran's Bridge. The bridge is currently rated number one in the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation Committee's (PACTS) draft list of priorities, and although that list does need some reordering, this bridge project could benefit bikes and pedestrians tremendously with a safe and surprisingly scenic route between the Portland peninsula and the Maine Mall area. The route is light green in the Portland bike map below, and it would provide a welcome alternative to the road-ragey Congress St. bike route (in red):


View Larger Map

The current bridge does have a sidewalk, but it leads straight onto a freeway on-ramp on the southern end of the bridge: cyclists and pedestrians must cross two lanes of freeway-speed traffic and numerous other on-ramp slip lanes to get to safety. Riding my bike on this bridge was the scariest cycling I've done in Maine - let's hope it gets better.

2 comments:

Matti said...

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Matti said...

I'm surprised you decided to venture across the bridge on a bike. I thought walking across the bridge by foot was dangerous enough.
When I got to the end of the bridge in South Portland the sidewalk disappeared thinking that it would come back I continued to walk on the side of the road; I quickly realized that I was headed for I-295. I turned around and headed back to Portland.

I would like to tell all who are reading this that Veteran's bridge is not a pedestrian bridge. Nor do I think that bicycles should be riding over the bridge. There should be signs telling both pedestrians and bicyclist that it is dangerous to cross the bridge and is only recommended for the experienced bicyclist. Pedestrians should not be allowed to access the bridge as it is now.

After walking the sidewalk I believe it was engineered only as a safe haven for motorist who become stranded on the bridge due to vehicular breakdown.

I feel that bicyclist and pedestrians need to be considered in the design of the new bridge.

I like the bicycle path displayed on the map and would like to see a similar path on the southern side of the bridge for pedestrians.