Back in April, you encouraged Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) to fund the addition of a shared use path for cyclists and pedestrians to the upgrade of the Market Street (Rt. 33) bridge over I-81 at the Exit 247 interchange. We argued that if the shared use path wasn’t included in the bridge rebuild now, it could be another 100 years before we had the opportunity to add the much-needed safe path for anyone outside of a car.
The great news is that VDOT agreed, and the shared use path is now in the design phase. But it’s a tricky design due to on and off-ramps to the interstate. The safest path for pedestrians and cyclists appears to be in the median, avoiding the merging and travel lanes that cars will use. But this is a bit of an uncommon route for cyclists and pedestrians. We think it could work, but only if there is a lot of attention paid to informing cyclists, pedestrians and drivers about the route. Signage, signals, and/ or road paint will be needed:
- so that cyclists and pedestrians know the car-free path exists and don’t use the car travel lanes, and
- so that drivers will know to watch and yield for pedestrians entering and exiting the path.
Another traffic flow change of note is a dedicated exit ramp from Northbound I-81 for folks wanting to turn left onto Linda Lane. This will alleviate quick lane changes for traffic exiting the interstate.
There is a public meeting for input on the design Thursday December 12 from 4-7pm at Lucy F. Simms Continuing Education Center, 620 Simms Avenue, Harrisonburg.
There will be short presentations at 5 and 6pm, but you can stop by anytime to view the proposed design and comment, and we hope you will. This is our one shot at a good solution for this corridor, so put your thinking cap on!
If you can’t make the meeting, you may also comment via mail or email by December 22.
Via email: email@example.com (reference PH I-81 Exit 247 Ramps and Route 33 Bridges Comment)
Via mail: Mr. John-Allen Ennis, P.E., Project Manager, Virginia Department of Transportation, 811 Commerce Road, Staunton VA 24401
Here’s a pdf version of the design drawing and you can find more project details here.