Sunday, July 30, 2017

Keep Union St RR Bridge for Walking and Biking During Eclipse

There's an interesting opinion piece in the paper today that proposes a shuttle across the Union Street Railroad Bridge on Eclipse Day 2017.

It's not nuts, it should be said right off.

But it's also a little askew with autoist bias.

It seems to trade on a notion that the bridge is "underutilized."

Automated daily counts, May 2 - August 8
Last year at this time in July and August it was averaging around 2800 trips per day. That's about the same number of trips that crossed the High Street Bridge over Pringle Creek, just below Gaiety Hill.

The notion that the Union Street Railroad Bridge is "underutilized" really seems to mean "I see no cars on it!" It treats foot and bike traffic as inconsequential - they literally don't count. Car trips are the only thing that can fully utilize it; foot trips and bike trips waste it a little.

That is wrong.

And the Union Street Bridge may be one of the best places to view the eclipse, so blocking it off for a shuttle service would be a real loss for Salemites.

Moreover, there's already excellent mobility across it. The writer proposes a park-and-ride concept:
West Salem departure points could include leaving from Wallace Marine Park and the parking lot near the branch library behind Roth’s Fresh Markets.
You can bike in a suit, actually! - via NY Times
Commuters could still park there and walk or bike across the bridge! This is a concept N3B has advocated several times over the years. And is one the City could embrace to pilot specifically for the eclipse.

And at the same time, the bridge will still be open to emergency vehicles if that becomes necessary.

For the future the writer also suggests "a reversible express lane on the existing Marion Street Bridge" and revisiting this, whether on the Marion or Center Street bridges or both, is a good idea as well. Folding this into the study and funding for the seismic retrofit on the Center Street Bridge is worth serious consideration. (Some previous notes on that here, here, here.)

So while there are details in the piece to quibble with, more generally it is the kind of flexible thinking about cross-river mobility we need more of!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Good idea - but only pedal powered :)