Thursday, July 11, 2013

Asking for the Best Ramp on the Ben Franklin Bridge

Since 2005 we have been working to make the Ben Franklin Bridge more accessible for bicyclists and pedestrians. We are approaching the culmination of a major victory: replacing the Camden-side stairs with a ramp.

We have one more step to get the bridge we want. In the near future the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) will decide on the final design for that ramp. This represents our last chance to influence the ramp's design. Want to get involved? Send an e-mail in your own words about why a continuous ramp is your preferred choice.
A ramp will be built connecting the bridge to bike-friendly Pearl Street. The question is: what kind of ramp?

Of the three proposed designs alternatives, we are urging the DRPA Board to select the single continuous ramp, aka "Alternative 2." This option calls for a single ramp that follows the slope of the bridge and widens a section of the existing walkway that currently narrows to 5 feet as it approaches the to-be-replaced stair tower.

The other two options include switchbacks. A continuous ramp that does not switch back and improves the existing narrow section of the walkway would:
  • maximize user convenience;
  • allow for continuous eastbound travel to Pearl Street, downtown Camden, and points beyond;
  • ease use of the ramp for disabled riders and people in wheel chairs;
  • further enhance transportation options for pedestrians, bicyclists and wheelchair users without busting the project’s budget.

Once completed, the ramp will be a centerpiece of The Circuit regional trail network and will connect to existing and planned street improvement and trail projects on both sides of the Delaware River.

Despite overwhelming support for Alternative 2, some DRPA Commissioners and staff members are concerned that the straight-ramp design might encourage speeding and create a safety hazard. Any speeding issues can be addressed by minor design changes, such as creating a chicane – which is a kink in the ramp similar to the design of the connector bridge in Schuylkill River Park. It should also be noted that the Philadelphia side of the bridge walkway is a already a straight ramp.

Please send a quick email today (use your own words) to the DRPA Board and urge them to choose Alternative 2. Thank you!