Level of Effort: 1 hour, at home, in your PJs, at a virtual meeting
Date and Time: Mon 2/13 11:30am

Over the next 8 years, the Long Bridge project will dramatically improve transportation across the Potomac River, by doubling rail capacity and building a brand new connection for people walking and biking from Long Bridge Park in Arlington to East Potomac Park in DC.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but the current plan for the design of the bike & pedestrian bridge reflects short-term thinking.  The proposed design is 16' wide with vertical barriers for safety on each side.

While 16' would be a good width for a well-used trail across a park, the barriers on either side narrow the effective width of the trail.  Trail users, especially those on bikes and scooters have a natural aversion to riding too close to vertical barriers.  VDOT's trail guidelines recognize this and require a 3' buffer between a trail and any vertical barrier. Effectively removing 3' of usable space on each side of a 16' trail leaves only 10' of usable space.

10' of effective space might be sufficient if everything goes perfectly, but this is the real world.  People will want to stop and take in the view.  People will get flat tires and need to stop and change them.  Toddlers in strollers will get fussy and their parents will need to stop and address the issue.  The current proposed width leaves no wiggle room for these activities, leading to inevitable conflict and safety problems.

As a result of continued advocacy from us and from WABA, the project sponsor has scheduled a stakeholder meeting to discuss the design of this bridge...at 11:30am on a Monday.  This is not likely to be a time convenient for many stakeholders, so if it is a time that works for you PLEASE plan to attend and speak up for a wider, lower-conflict bridge design.  Register in advance here, and plan to attend virtually (our two allotted in-person spots are filled).

Suggested talking points for the meeting:

  • the bridge will be well-used
  • realistically, people will stop on the bridge for many different reasons
  • 16' with immediately adjacent vertical barriers leaves only about 10' of useful width.  This is not enough to allow two-way traffic, with passing, as well as allowing people to stop & deal with issues