Agreement paves way to begin Hood Canal Bridge bicycle safety improvements in 2012
The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) will make some much needed bicycle safety improvements on Hood Canal Bridge, thanks to an agreement struck between Washington Bikes, local cycling groups, and WSDOT. The agreement, funded largely from a $1.3 million federal grant, allows the state to move forward on a package of safety improvements that will widen (from 3 feet to approximately 5 feet) and improve the bridge surface for bicycles.
Since the Hood Canal Bridge’s reconstruction in 2009, narrow metal plates over the bridge decking and oft-damaged plates covering bridge joints have led to numerous crashes by those on bicycle. These concerns have prompted Washington Bikes and local cycling groups to advocate for safety improvements. The proposed bridge fixes, designed by WSDOT, aim to provide a more durable, wider, and non-skid riding surface for bicycle travel.
Senator Christine Rolfes (D-Bainbridge), who played a critical role in convening discussions with WSDOT noted, “I appreciate the work of staff at WSDOT – particularly those at the Olympic Region office – who were open to thinking creatively to make this project a reality. Despite the budget constraints facing the state, WSDOT sought out new approaches to address long-standing safety issues that affect mobility, tourism, and recreation between the Kitsap and Olympic peninsulas.”
“We are elated to see the state move forward on fixes that will improve safety and accessibility across the Hood Canal Bridge,” said Washington Bikes executive director Barbara Culp. “Washington Bikes applauds WSDOT for their diligence in pursuing this fix. We believe this agreement represents a new chapter in WSDOT’s pursuit of incorporating safety and mobility for bicycles on Washington’s bridges and we look forward to working with WSDOT to make this happen.”
The stakeholders representing bicycle clubs and organizations including Squeaky Wheels (Bainbridge), West Sound Cycling Club (Kitsap), Port Townsend Bicycle Association, and Peninsula Trails Coalition (Olympic Peninsula) have used their local knowledge and technical expertise to collaborate with Washington Bikes and WSDOT Olympic Region on crafting a pragmatic solution that addresses some of the vexing safety concerns of the 2009 bridge reconstruction project.
“This is all about safety for me and the West Sound Cycling Club,” said Lee Derror, former president of the West Sound Cycling Club. “Fixing the Hood Canal Bridge for bicycle use creates a safer link between Kitsap and the rest of the Olympic Peninsula – that’s something we can all support.
WSDOT expects the contractor selection process to occur in August 2012. Once WSDOT selects the contractor, construction is expected to take approximately five months. Drivers and bicyclists can expect shoulder closures, lane closures and one-way alternating traffic throughout the project’s duration.