Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Healdsburg Memorial Bridge - Bike/Ped issue

Mayor Plass and Vice-Mayor Jones -

I just read an article in the Press Democrat discussing the closure of the Memorial Bridge from mid 2013 for 18-24 months, with complete closure for bikes/peds. The article was a bit fluffy so I am emailing you asking for more details.

My wife and I purchased a property on Limerick Lane 4 years ago and have been running a vacation rental business there over this time period. Despite recent record success with the business, we are shuttering the business for an even better opportunity - we are moving into the house fulltime at the end of August. However, we were shocked and dismayed to find out we will be cut off from downtown for a long stretch of time, we selected the location in large part for the easy bike ride to downtown, I will be shuttling my young son to preschool on the bike seat starting September.

The first article I read discussed access being "via Westside road". That would be in the vicinity of 1 5 miles for me via Eastside and Wohler Bridge. I am a strong fit cyclist but I'm not very interested in a 30 mile round trip just to go get a burger at Bear Republic, currently a 4 mile round trip. It now looks like more plausible options are being discussed. Options listed in the paper were a "shuttle" or usage of the railroad bridge.

I have a huge stake in the outcome and may make a special trip to Healdsburg (we are in San Francisco right now) to make public comment on this matter but I would like some context so I can prepare my comments.

As the owner of the vacation rental we made a lot of money from cyclists who rented our house and were not price sensitive. They would frequently leave us very expensive bottles of wine as parting thank yous. Cutting off the south of Healdsburg and Windsor area from bikes would divert a lot of tourism dollars out of the city. A lot of Santa Rosa Cycling routes use Healdsburg Ave to access Old Redwood, routes would now bypass Healdsburg completely. A stimulus program for the Dry Creek Store but bad for Oakville, Sheltons, Healdsburg Bar and Grill, the burrito places, etc... A shuttle would not service group rides like that which frequently have 50+ riders and usually include a lunch stop on the plaza. I think the town needs to figure out how to have "standard" bicycle access.

Pedestrian issues are also very important. The parking lot at Memorial Beach is frequently a zoo despite people who walk to the beach from town. Cutting off pedestrian access would make the beach a disaster. This also includes tourists who walk from the downtown lodging to the rafting company just across the bridge.

It would probably be possible to convince Caltrans to open 101 for bicycle access from Westside/Healdsburg to Old Redwood but this would only suffice for the hardier cyclist and do nothing for pedestrians. For reference, it is legal to ride on 101 in parts of Novato and from Geysers Road in Cloverdale all the way to Hopland. Any time there is no reasonable alternate route, bicycle access is allowed on limited access highways.

I am sure you have done a lot of research to this end, and it does sound like you are hoping to find a good solution, as well as make good (better!) accommodations on the completed bridge.

Thank You

John Murphy - 1184 Limerick Lane, Healdsburg, Ca, 95449

3 comments:

djconnel said...

The railroad bridge would require "environmental review"???

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