Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Ending the Bridge Sillines

Ending the Bridge Sillines

We would urge everyone out there as citizens to do two things to help us get the Ben Franklin Bridge Reopened.

1 - Complain to DRPA customer service especially if you bicycle the bridge to earn a living, or go to school etc.
2 – Write a letter to the editor, the Governor, your state representative or city council representative (Note: Governor Rendell is the Chair of the DRPA board).

1 – Closing the walkway is a clear over-reaction that is inconsistent with other PATCO security measures and is the only one that restricts access to DRPA infrastructure.

2 – In New York the Williamsburg and Manhattan bridges carry subway lines, yet these bridges are open 24 hours a day 7 days a week and have been since the spring of 2001

3 – Closing the walkway eliminates an emergency evacuation route
, the East River Bridge walkways were important evacuation routes on September 11 2001 and during the Great Northeast Blackout of August 14, 2003.

4 – DRPA actions reveal that they view walkway maintenance as a burden, this winter there were several closing during and after snow events that lasted up to two weeks. No attempt was made to clear snow and ice on the walkways and the bridges were not reopened until the last flake of snow had melted away.

5- Closing the walkway affects the economy – Courier companies that use bike messengers now must pay higher costs for tolls and gas or transit fares. North Camden residents who live below the poverty level probably use the walkway to access work and services in Center City. Rutgers Camden bicycle commuters now must find another means to get to work. The DRPA has not collected information on bridge user groups to measure the true economic impact.

6 - PATCO High Speed Line does not work for everyone at all times, A Bicycle Coalition Board Member and his spouse were stranded with their Tandem Bicycle because the DRPA did not inform ACS Bike A Thon return riders that the walkways would be closed. Tandem's do not fit on PATCO vehicles, they caught the last ferry back at a cost of $12 for a one way trip.

7- Creating disruption is a goal of terrorism.

So if DRPA perceives a security problem on the walkway what can they do?

1 - Apply for Homeland Security Funds to install closed circuit television cameras on the walkway.

2 - Open up a security hotline similar to NJ TRANSIT 1-888-TIPS NJT

We’ll be providing more contact and action information as our work on this issue progresses.