Pathways on Bridges

Separated, Protected Multi-Use Pathways on Major Indiana Bridges

Crossing safely over major bodies of water such as the Ohio River, the Wabash River and others in Indiana can be quite challenging for bicyclists and pedestrians, and at times, dangerous.  Pathway users must feel comfortable and safe in order to gain full, equitable use of or alternatives to long, heavily-trafficked, high-speed bridges that span these large rivers, and in some cases, lakes.

 

Currently, traversing the Ohio River west of Jeffersonville / Louisville is especially difficult given the age, design and width of bridges between there and the Illinois state line.  None of those structures were built with cyclists or pedestrians in mind.  The fact that no separate/protected bicycle-pedestrian accommodations are currently planned for the proposed Interstate-69 bridge between Evansville IN and Henderson KY (as opposed to other interstate bridges around North America) is a huge red flag for Indiana bicycle-pedestrian advocates and national organizations.

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Sagamore Parkway Bridge in Lafayette

Photo courtesy Gary Davis

Safety as a Priority

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Milton-Madison Bridge over the Ohio River

Photo courtesy Derek Zollinger

There are positive signs of hope for bicyclists and pedestrians with the creation of protected multi-use pathways on bridges at Madison and Jeffersonville, and we applaud Indiana and Kentucky for those successes.  Fort Wayne, Lafayette, Indianapolis and Terre Haute have shown significant progress in making large bridges safer for those on foot, bicycles or wheelchairs--but challenges persist around the state.

 

Indiana Trails highlights some of our safest major bridges...and will continue to monitor and report on new bridge developments here and around the U.S. that bring higher and optimal levels of safety for people practicing active transportation and non-motorized mobility.

 

Your Indiana Trails Team.

Examples of Bridges With Protected Bike and Hike Accommodations in Indiana

BRIDGE NAME - CITY OR TOWN - WHAT IS BEING CROSSED

146th Street Bridge over US 31 - Carmel/Westfield - US 31

146th Street Bridge over White River - Carmel/Fishers/Noblesville - White River

Big Four Bridge - Jeffersonville - Ohio River

Davis Ferry Bridge - Lafayette - Wabash River

Eagle Creek Trail Bridge - Indianapolis - I-74

Erie-Lackawanna Trail Bridge - Hammond - US 41

Veterans Memorial Bridge - Fort Wayne - Saint Marys River

George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge - Jeffersonville - Ohio River

John T. Myers Bridge - Lafayette - Wabash River

Lewis and Clark Bridge - Jeffersonville - Ohio River

Logan Street Bridge - Noblesville - White River

Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge - Fort Wayne - Saint Marys River

Milton-Madison Bridge - Madison - Ohio River

Monon Trail Bridge over 38th Street - Indianapolis - 38th Street

Montezuma B&O Walking Bridge - Montezuma - Wabash River

Old US 40 Bridge - Indianapolis - White River

Potters Covered Bridge - Noblesville - White River

Sagamore Parkway Bridge - Lafayette - Wabash River

Secrest Ferry Bridge - Gosport - White River

Strawtown Bridge - Strawtown - White River

US 150 Bridge - Terre Haute - Wabash River

West 10th Street Bridge - Indianapolis - White River

West Washington Street Bridge - Indianapolis - White River

White River Greenway Bridge - Noblesville - White River

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Big Four Bridge looking towards Jeffersonville

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George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge looking towards Louisville

Milton Madison Bridge crossing the Ohio River in Madison
Big Four Bridge crossing the Ohio River in Jeffersonville
West Main Street Bridge in Lafayette crossing the Wabash River next to the Amtrak Station
Main Street Bridge in Zionsville crossing Eagle Creek
Nickel Plate Trail Bridge crossing the Wabash River in Peru
Sagamore Parkway Bridge over the Wabash River
Stillwater MN Bridge courtesy Greg Schulz
 

Examples of Protected Bike And Hike Accommodations Across the World

Of special note is the Interstate-74 bridge being built over the Mississippi River in the Quad Cities area.  Click here to watch the webcam of the construction site.  When completed, the bridge will have two wide protected pathways, one on each side of the bridge.  This will facilitate a high volume of active transportation activities between Davenport, Moline, Rock Island, and other cities and towns in the area.

Why Indiana Trails Community is concerned with the I-69 ORX Project

History

Project managers for the I-69 crossing over the Ohio River between Evansville, Indiana and Henderson, Kentucky have proposed demolishing one or both of the US Highway 41 bridges across the Ohio River and replacing them with a new Interstate 69 bridge.  These bridges are currently the only way for residents of either city to cross the Ohio River to patronize businesses, go to work, or engage in recreation in either state or city.

 

Currently, it is legal for bicycles to traverse the US Highway 41 bridge, however neither Indiana Trails Community nor Evansville Trails Coalition would recommend using the US Highway 41 bridges with the high volume of traffic that utilize these bridges.  With the building of the I-69 bridge, it is important to note that non-motorized vehicles and pedestrians are not allowed on Interstates.  Removing these bridges or converting them to Interstate bridges removes the option for alternative transportation, such as bicycling and hiking.

Why is it important?

This is important because there are recreation areas on both sides of the river; such as the John James Audubon State Park and Green River State Forest in Kentucky as well as Wesselman Woods and Burdette Park in Indiana.  Both Evansville and Henderson recognize the value of trails and are developing a network of trails in their respective cities.  Additionally, longer trails, such as the coast-to-coast American Discovery Trail goes through Evansville, the proposed north-south US Bike Route 37 will go through Evansville and Henderson, and Kentucky’s proposed Ohio Valley Trail, a proposed 430 mile trail in Kentucky’s Master Trail Plan terminates in Henderson.

 

Destroying the current US Highway 41 bridges without building accommodations for alternative transportation excludes an important demographic, cutting off Hoosiers and Kentuckians from hiking and biking opportunities in the local area.

Are hiking and biking accommodations feasible?

Hiking and biking accommodations have been added to several bridges that cross the Ohio River, including two in the Louisville area and at Madison.  However, there are no safe accommodations for hikers and bikers west of Louisville until Illinois - the nearest being a ferry in Illinois.

 

Hiking and biking accommodations are not only feasible, but they encourage economic development.  Converting the Big Four Bridge from Jeffersonville to Louisville into a hike bike only bridge has contributed significantly to the revitalization of downtown Jeffersonville[1].  It was estimated that rebuilding the Milton-Madison Bridge to include hike and bike accommodations will contribute $152.5 million over the 10 years after it was rebuilt[2].

In addition to the arguments above, project managers are obligated by law to accommodate pedestrians and bicyclists.  23 CFR 652.5 states, “The safe accommodation of pedestrians and bicyclists should be given full consideration during the development of Federal-aid highway projects, and during the construction of such projects. The special needs for the elderly and the handicapped shall be considered in all Federal-aid projects that include pedestrian facilities. Where current or anticipated pedestrian and/or bicycle traffic presents a potential conflict with motor vehicle traffic, every effort shall be made to minimize the detrimental effects on all highway users who share the facility. On highways without full control of access where a bridge deck is being replaced or rehabilitated, and where bicycles are permitted to operate at each end, the bridge shall be reconstructed so that bicycles can be safely accommodated when it can be done at a reasonable cost. Consultation with local groups of organized bicyclists is to be encouraged in the development of bicycle projects.”

The Board Commissioners of Vanderburgh County requested designs for protected pathways

for non-motorized traffic across the Ohio River connecting Evansville with Henderson.  Read

their statement to the right.

What can I do?

The stakeholders for this project need to know that the community supports bike and hike accommodations to the new bridge project between Evansville and Henderson.  There are several ways you can help out:

 

  1. Sign our petition.

  2. Write a letter to your elected officials.

  3. Spread the word!

 

[1] https://www.courier-journal.com/story/money/louisville-city-living/2019/05/20/jeffersonville-indiana-big-four-bridge-economic-impact-5-year-anniversary/3665100002/

 

[2] https://www.roundaboutmadison.com/InsidePages/ArchivedArticles/Bridge/Bridge19.html