Cyclists using the Mt. Vernon trail happily report that the trail portion of the new Humpback Bridge is now open. So, unlike with the Wilson Bridge we won't have to wait until everything else is finsihed. This marks an enormous improvement over the previous bridge where the pathway was narrow, had no wall to separate it from the road, involved steep climbs up both sides and a 90 degree turn on the DC side.
If you're going north on the MVT, there are no longer any 90-degree turns anywhere, only the turn if you are heading onto the 14th St. bridge sidewalk. The route has been smoothed out and leveled so there are no sudden climbs like there were in the old path.
All of the trail sections are completely finished and open to cyclists. The only remaining issue is that there is still some stone facing work that needs to be done on the east side of the bridge. Because of that ongoing work, there are some jersey barriers on the east part of the trail as it crosses the bridge. But those barriers don't run the entire length of the bridge, maybe 30 ft. Two-way traffic will be difficult in that section. But at least there is now a solid permanent stone/concrete wall between the bike lane and the car lanes.
Neither of the underpasses are open yet.
Photo by Michael Neubert
Further down the MVT is this explanation for the orange and white barricades at the TR Island entrance
"A rehabilitation project is currently underway at the Memorial Plaza of Theodore Roosevelt Island. The project started in early December, 2010, and is projected to be completed in June, 2011. This project will consist of a rehabilitation of the piping system as well as some aesthetic improvements to the moats and fountains. As part of the project work, the contractor will periodically have heavy equipment and vehicles accessing the island on the pedestrian bridge during the weekdays. When crossing, the contractor is required to provide flaggers at both ends of the bridge.
We know where the entrance to the bridge is located next to the Memorial parking lot is a congested area for bicyclists, pedestrians, and now, construction vehicles. Our maintenance folks have placed the orange and white plastic jersey barriers, you may have seen, along the edge of the Mount Vernon Trail near the bridge entrance. The purpose is to physically separate bridge traffic, especially construction vehicles, from the trail traffic. There are permanent bicycle racks with spaces between them that are located to the side of the bridge entrance. They have been blocked off with portable bicycle racks covered with plastic orange fencing to keep people from cutting through the permanent bicycle rack spaces to get on the trail and possibly colliding with any of the construction traffic. The contractor will also be setting up some temporary measures in the parking lot, so bicyclists can mount the curbs better.
We know there is a long-standing trail crossing safety issue in the Memorial parking lot, too. Bicyclists coming from the Rosslyn area and going down the corkscrew walkway to the Mount Vernon Trail and heading on south typically use the center of the parking lot to go from the trail end on the river side of the parking lot and cross the lot over to the Mount Vernon Trail end on the Parkway side. We are working on some design ideas to improve the ease and safety of the bicycle crossing, so it doesn't conflict with vehicles in the parking lot and pedestrians who are heading toward the island bridge entrance. The entire Theodore Roosevelt Island bridge and parking lot area is very small, cramped between the Parkway and Potomac River, so there's not much room for a lot of stuff. We have some pretty innovative architects and engineers though who I think can ultimately figure something out."