Monday, November 9, 2009

Crossing 12th at Mill Street

In this morning's Statesman is an article about the pedestrian bridge over 12th Street.

Crossing 12th street here is very difficult, and Willamette University and Tokyo International University of America together funded and built a private footbridge across 12th street. Initially the bridge was open, but vandalism and theft led the universities to close the bridge to the public. Crime diminished by 90%. It's hard to argue with that!

Nonetheless, the crossing remains difficult for the public, and the bridge is not very bike friendly.

The city has dormant plans to finish the 12th Street Promenade and add a pedestrian median to 12th. These plans could be funded by the bike/ped portion of the Keep Salem Moving road bond.

In general terms this is a great idea! Mill Street is an important low-traffic bikeway that connects to Willamette University. Just as Chemeketa is an important way between State and Center, so is Mill important between Mission and State.

The draft plan, however, requires bicyclists to use the crosswalk on the south side of the intersection. West-bound bike traffic is especially crimped in this way. The project can be improved so that both the walking and bicycling public can cross 12th Street more easily.


Walker said...

The City should simply condemn the bridge through eminent domain, allow Willamette to lock up the far side, and build a stairs back to ground level right at Mission Mill Museum -- that way, everyone can use the bridge and the security concerns for Tokyo University & Willamette are addressed.

Salem Breakfast on Bikes said...

Well...aside from the politics of condemnation, there are several advantages to street-level improvements. As you know, stairs don't help bicyclists much. Also, the southern terminus of the promenade is abrupt and very coarse gravel, and the draft plan will make smooth the connection between the promenade and Mill street. Finally, a street level crossing of 12th also helps those who wish to go south on 12th rather than through the WU campus.

So no matter what happens with the bridge, fixing that intersection at street level is a good idea; and opening the bridge to the public no substitute for fixing the intersection.