Ensure that the new Amtrak Susquehanna River Bridge will accommodate cyclists and walkers.
The East Coast Greenway (ECG) is a 2,900-mile National Millennium Trail connecting 15 states and more than two dozen major cities throughout the Eastern seaboard. The ECG is now 30% complete as trail, with 70% of the route on carefully-selected roadways. There are many challenges to building trail on the route, but one rises high above the rest: crossing the Susquehanna River. Did you know that in the state of Maryland there is no safe way to cross the Susquehanna on foot or by bike? The closest safe crossing is in Pennsylvania, over 42 miles upstream from Havre de Grace. With your help, we can change that.
The Susquehanna River is the longest US river draining into the Atlantic, and the country’s 16th largest by volume. It is noted mostly for its recreational and ecological importance. There are presently four crossings in the river’s southernmost stretch, two for autos and two for rail, and none permit bikes or peds. One of these (Amtrak’s Susquehanna River Bridge) was completed in 1906, and is one of the most significant bottlenecks in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been awarded $22 million to design this bridge’s replacement, to increase capacity in the corridor. This is a great first step, but it doesn’t guarantee that bicycle and pedestrian access will be built across the Susquehanna River; we all know that when cost projections start rising, bike and ped features are often the first to be cut.
The 2035 Maryland Transportation Plan and the Draft Maryland Twenty-Year Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan set strong goals for enhancing non-motorized transportation in Maryland. A bridge, if properly designed (and built) with accommodation for walkers and cyclists, will be proof positive that MDOT walks the talk. A bridge between Havre de Grace and Perryville could support the communities it touches and also host several significant routes, including the East Coast Greenway, the Washington-Rochambeau National Historic Trail, the Lower Susquehanna Heritage Greenway, and the September 11th National Memorial Trail.
Please join the East Coast Greenway Alliance as we urge MDOT to build bridges that will serve all modes, connecting communities by rail, bike, and foot, for the next 100 years. Together we can make our voices heard as we call for healthy and sustainable transportation infrastructure for generations to come, providing places for our children, grandchildren, and so on to play, commute, and exercise. Visit http://www.greenway.org/ to learn more about the ECG, and sign up for our free monthly newsletter to get updates on this matter.
[Edit, Feb. 10, 2016: Maryland DOT announced today that starting on July 1, 2016, bicyclists will be allowed to use the Hatem Bridge, sharing space with motor vehicles. This is an important step, and we thank Governor Hogan and Secretary Rahn. We will continue to work diligently toward a separated facility for bicyclists and pedestrians.]
[Photo at top: Ben Longstaff, Integration and Application Network, University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science]
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