Bicycle Alliance: Action needed to make Hood Canal Bridge safe

This is dangerous, especially when wet. Photo from BAW

In the first few months after the Hood Canal Bridge reopened in 2009, several people biking were seriously injured. The cause: Metal plates placed over the bridge grating was clearly placed without people biking in mind. Uneven gaps and slippery surfaces make the Hood Canal Bridge a dangerous link for local commuters and for bicycle tourism in the State of Washington.

Even if you are not a bicycle rider, bicycle tourism = $$$ for your local economy.

After bicyclists from many different groups met with the state to discuss ways to improve safety on the bridge, it seemed as though the state had a $1.3 million commitment to fixing the bridge this year. However, after estimates for the work came in about $500,000 over-budget, the work appears to be stalled.

Now, the Bicycle Alliance of Washington wants you to write WSDOT and local elected officials and let them know you are concerned about bicycle safety on this vital bridge (the only bridge connecting the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas). $500,000 extra is very little to pay to prevent further injuries or worse. The benefits to bicycle tourism alone will make up for the cost in no time.

From the Bicycle Alliance:

As executive director of the Bicycle Alliance, I started working in early 2010 with those same bicycle advocates and we successfully allied with WSDOT to acquire $1.3 million to address the safety concerns identified. WSDOT then met with those organizations to discuss design proposals and material selection with the stated goal to retrofit the bridge during the 2012 construction season.

Unfortunately, according the WSDOT project engineer, the various options under consideration will likely exceed the $1.3 million allocated for this project. Instead the cost appears more likely in the $1.8 million range. WSDOT continues to “evaluate the options with WSDOT bridge designers and the evaluation has not changed” meaning this project needs more money to create a safe riding surface for bicyclists.

Because of WSDOT’s concern over the increased cost of the project and the uncertainty over the additional funding needed, design work on the project has stopped and will not resume until such time the project engineer is advised that more funding is available to complete this project.

As process requires, a project summary was submitted to the WSDOT Program Management group that oversees funding issues, and “requested guidance on the funding piece.” ASK Secretary Hammond to please make a determination that additional funding is warranted to fix the safety issues that were identified back in the summer of 2009. 

Now is the time for WSDOT to fund the Hood Canal Bridge’s safety issues for bicycles before more cyclists are injured. Ask Secretary Hammond to:

  • Please allocate the remaining $500,000 to make the Hood Canal Bridge safe for bicycles.
  • The Hood Canal Bridge is the only connection between the Kitsap Peninsula and Olympic Peninsula and is a critical link for all types of riders.
  • The Hood Canal route attracts bicycle club riders, recreational riders, and cycling tourists from around the world. It is critical for bicycle tourism.
  • A fix will save the state money. Ongoing safety concerns about the route make the state liable for future accidents along this improperly designed bicycle connection.
  • Safety fixes now will save millions of dollars in potential liability settlements.

Send your emails to Secretary Hammond before March 30th.

Paula Hammond, Secretary of Transportation: HammonP@wsdot.wa.gov
Jerry Lenzi, Chief Engineer, lenzijc@wsdot.wa.gov
David Dye, Chief Operations Officer, DyeD@wsdot.wa.gov
Kevin Dayton – Olympic Regional Administrator, daytonk@wsdot.wa.gov
cc Jeff Cook, Olympia Region, Bridge Project Engineer, cookjd@wsdot.wa.gov

Please also send your emails to elected officials in the 23rd and 24th Legislative Districts:
Christine.Rolfes@leg.wa.gov
Sherry.Appleton@leg.wa.gov
Drew@drewhansen.com
Steve.Tharinger@leg.wa.gov
Jim.Hargrove@leg.wa.gov
kevin.vandewege@leg.wa.gov

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6 Responses to Bicycle Alliance: Action needed to make Hood Canal Bridge safe

  1. Pingback: Bicycle Alliance: Action needed to make Hood … – Seattle Bike Blog | Bicycle News

  2. Todd says:

    I’ve ridden across this bridge and undoubtedly the grates are a force to be dealt with.

  3. RTK says:

    I grew up in the area, I rode across the old bridge more than the new one. Not a good situation, but it is interesting that commuters are mentioned. Are there any bike commuters that use this bridge? I don’t think that is very likely.
    Doesn’t minimize the safety issue.

  4. Doug says:

    I’ve ridden over this bridge many times, and have never considered the surface terribly difficult to negotiate. But I’ve lucked out and have never done it while it was wet. And besides, I encourage them to make it better even if I haven’t experience difficulties.

    RTK: I doubt there are a ton of bike commuters, but I can imagine someone using it en route to the Kingston-Seattle passenger ferry.

  5. Todd says:

    I rode this out of Silverdale. I can see people using it to commute to Bremerton, etc… but I too am in agreement… probably not a lot.

  6. Jay says:

    To expound on the bike tourism angle are those bike tourers from within WA, other states and other countries that use this route to access the Olympic Peninsula throughout the year. I suspect the majority of cyclists that come from out of town will ferry from Seattle to start their journey. With expansion and improvements to bike trails and routes throughout the peninsula, the level of loaded touring bikers has also, I suspect, increased. Negotiating a gear-loaded bike across the bridge in inclement weather is hazardous without the “promised” improvements. Also, there are still popular organized rides, such as the new (in 2011) Seattle Gran Fondo, that send riders across the bridge, rain or shine.

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