Posted by Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) on September 30th, 2009 at 10:19 am
to the Interstate Bridge.
With no guarantee that a new bridge over I-5 between Vancouver and Portland will ever be built, transportation planners from the City of Vancouver are working on several projects they hope will improve bicycle and pedestrian travel across the existing span.
According to Senior Planner Jennifer Campos, Vancouver won a grant from the federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) to carry out a host of capital improvement projects on and around the bridge.
Campos said the new markings and signage coming to the bridge — which will cost $20,000 out of the $353,000 total funds available for the projects — is the result of increased bicycle and pedestrian traffic over the bridge her department first noticed in 2006. Along with that traffic, she says, they also noticed more calls about near misses, conflicts and collisions.
Initially, Campos proposed turning both sides of the bridge path into one-way traffic only for bicycles. According to Campos, WSDOT and ODOT supported the one-way concept, but they did not agree on the initial design of the pavement markings and signage to go with it.
The currently proposed markings and signage (which are shown in this story) are the result of the City of Vancouver going back to the drawing board and enlisting the help of the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and the City of Portland. Here’s a map of where the new markings and signage will go:
The directional stencil that will likely be used is based on the design Multnomah County uses on the Hawthorne Bridge. There are two basic stencils that will be placed on the bridge path; one will remind cyclists to yield to pedestrians and the other remind cyclists going downhill to yield to cyclists coming in the opposite direction. A sign will be installed to draw attention to the new stencils.
While the stencils encourage bicycles to travel in one direction only (with the flow of motor vehicle traffic), Campos assured me that it is not required;
“There has never been any discussion about making the directional riding a mandatory requirement, only suggestive as I know there are many cyclists who do not feel comfortable riding on the east side span.”
These changes to the Interstate Bridge are just one piece of a host of infrastructure improvements in the area around north side of the bridge that the City is calling their “Bike Vancouver” project. Total budget for the project is $353,000 (of which $218,000 is federal funding and the rest is local matching dollars).
They have already installed wayfinding signage to and from the bridge to destinations around Vancouver and plans are in the works to install a “left-hand turn pocket” to make it more comfortable for people on bikes to get onto the bridge path from Columbia Street going south.
Vancouver also plans to widen the pathway on the west side leading onto the bridge; add two covered kiosks (off of Columbia Street and Columbia Way) with information, maps, tips, upcoming events, and so on; restripe the parking lot on the northeast side of the bridge to give people on bikes more room to negotiate around a power pole (which Campos noted “unfortunately we couldn’t move”); and pay for police enforcement on the weekends to ensure that cars do not block the bikeway as it comes off of the bridge.
Along with all these improvements, the City of Vancouver has also launched an online survey to hear your feedback on riding across the bridge and on their proposed changes. Take the survey here.