The June 6, 2013 Times Union had columnist Chris Churchill (the TU’s “Advocate”) covering a subject one would expect to have found in Tim O’Brien’s “Getting There” feature – the redesign of the Congress Street/Route 2 Bridge connecting Troy and Watervliet. Always a consumer watchdog, we have Mr. Churchill aggressively addressing a “complete streets” topic based on citizen complaints about how the bridge is being reconfigured by NYS DOT.
Having just used this bridge a few days ago – a 4-lane mega bridge connecting 30 mph, 2-lane zones – one gets the sensation of being on the entry ramp to a 6-lane turnpike. It’s an overbuilt connector between two downtown urban areas both of which have ride-able (and walk-able) features. The latest rebuild moves the guard rails from the roadside edge of the sidewalk to the extreme outside of the sidewalk against the chain link fence. The explanation as gleaned by Mr. Churchill from his DOT contact is that this provides better protection for motor vehicles and not for pedestrians. Even given that New York State’s complete streets legislation did not go into effect until 2/15/12 and considering that this project probably was well past the design stage at that time, it still would have been neat to see some consideration for cyclists, wheel chair users, and walkers.
And Mr. Churchill has the solution – an alternate vision for the span that would make the placement of the guard rails irrelevant. “Why,” he asks, “does the bridge need four lanes of traffic? It isn’t that heavily trafficked. Why not devote one lane on the north side of the bridge to bikes and other non-motorized traffic — a move that would also separate pedestrians from cars and help link downtown Troy to the Corning Preserve?”
Now there’s a simple “complete streets” solution!