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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Jordan Bridge Thoughts

Let’s assume for a moment that the Jordan Bridge is closed. This would leave an estimated 7,000 cars a day to find an alternate route. 4,000 of these are estimated to use the Gilmerton as their backup. In the paper today, they interviewed a man that rode his bike to the shipyard everyday and he commented that he could not easily change his route. This got me thinking. How much does a bike weigh? Not much. With a heavy passenger, the total might be 200 pounds. So why not leave the Jordan open to bicyclists? They don’t weigh much, and if combined with a parking lot on the Chesapeake side of the bridge, it would give the current commuters a simple alternative that would be both environmentally friendly and healthier for them. I ride my bike near daily and utilize public transit when available and I truly feel that, especially with high gas prices, that many people would rather ride their bike for 20 minutes a day than extend their commute by 40 minutes to a hour with traffic. This park-and-bike option, if combined with a park-and-ride option with a shuttle bus could actually be more popular to more people than use the Jordan bridge now.


Anonymous said...

I bike a lot too, and frequently use the Jordan Bridge. It and the Gilmerton Bridge are the only bike routes from Norfolk (via the Berkley Bridge bike path) to Portsmouth, Chesapeake and points southwest.

Leaving the bridge open for cyclists and pedestrians would likely be too costly, since a bridge operator would still have to be raised and lowered for boat traffic. (I assume, if the bridge closes, that is will simply be left in the raised position 24/7.)

This place is so backwards when it comes to cycling and outdoor rec issues that Chesapeake would never want to bear the expense, no matter how small.

It's too bad that the city didn't nut up five or 10 years ago and boost the toll to $1.50 or $2 -- small enough that people wouldn't change their routes but big enough that it would have generated millions over the years to keep up on maintenance.

A final note: Today's Pilot reports that $900,000 of the annual $1.6 million toll revenues pay for bridge workers. That's 22 people at $40,000 each -- seems like a lot for one little bridge. I've always suspected that the bridge is stuffed with cronies and operates with twice as many people as necessary. No wonder there's never been any interest in automated toll collection. It would have meant fewer patronage jobs to hand out.

Russell Manning said...

I think that they should raise the toll now. Raise it enough TO change their routes. That way when they close it, everyone will already have warmed up to the idea. Then, continue the toll for bikers (I think it will support both bicycles and motorcycles). The money collected will offset the cost of continually operating the bridge OR a passenger ferry-type setup. It can be done.

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