LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Big changes are coming to the Clark Memorial Bridge that will impact all drivers, pedestrians and cyclists. Starting March 10, as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project there will be lane restrictions and by late May the entire bridge will be shut down to all traffic.
Originally the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet was planning on closing the sidewalks, so no pedestrians would be allowed to travel the bridge. That would have eliminated any option of someone crossing over the Ohio River on foot since the Indiana ramp to the Big Four Bridge is not ready. After some complaints from the community, the lane restrictions have been tweaked.
Jackie Green, owner of Bike Couriers Bike Shop, had some seriously problems with the original changes.
"The commerce clause of our constitution states that you cannot deny an individual from crossing a state line," said Green.
A modified plan released late Friday will allow sidewalk access along one side of the bridge during the lane restrictions starting Monday. Work will start on the southbound lanes of US 31 and pedestrian access will be kept on the northbound sidewalk. After work is completed on the southbound side of the approach, crews will place a second row of concrete barriers in the restricted area to create a safe pathway for pedestrians.
Bicyclists are urged to keep in mind on the Indiana approach the ramp will shrink from four lanes to two. Once on the bridge all four lanes will be used.
"This merging of bicycle traffic with cars is a very good thing, it will calm our traffic," said Green.
Not everyone agrees the bridge will become a safer option for cyclists. George Cronen's father, Chips Cronen, 57, lost his life back in 2007. He was biking home from Clarksville on the Clark Memorial Bridge.
"The driver was going too fast according to witness accounts and did not move over, did not slow down, did not stop when he hit him," said Cronen.
Cronen believes drivers consistently go over the 35 mph speed limit on the bridge and fears it will only worse when drivers and cyclists have to share a lane.
"I think you are going to have a lot of frustrations from the drivers that are stuck behind cyclists and it's not just cyclists that are out there for exercise that are using it, it's commuters and they don't have another option to cross the bridge," said Cronen.
When these plans were put in place several months ago the Ohio River Bridges Project fully anticipated that the Indiana ramp to the Big Four Bridge would be open. It is now set to be fully functional mid May.
Tuesday, April 20 2010 11:21 PM EDT2010-04-21 03:21:00 GMT
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