Saturday, August 18, 2012

Missing In Action

Snell Street no bridge

Former Snell Street Bridge
The state made good progress on the Snell Street Bridge replacement this week, managing to remove the entire historic old RR bridge in just five days and only closing the road off from 7:00 AM till 3:00 PM.

Since state Department of Conservation Recreation is about as communicative as a hunk of metal, we do not know if the new bridge will be dropped into place starting next week or not.

First warning/blockade/detour for users is about 100 yards away
Blockade at bridge is formidable enough to stop a bike going full speed

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

what do cyclists see as they reach the missing bridge?

Will the width/height of the underpass be increased before the bridge is replaced?

LarryK said...

Cyclist see a "detour" sign.

No, the width/height is, amazingly, not being increased appreciably: height by only a few inches.

Anonymous said...

I think the height is actually going up by about a foot, from 9.5 to 10.5 feet. This is enough to keep smaller trucks and vans from scraping, but not tall enough to let tractor trailers under.

Anonymous said...

How much less would it have cost to take the whole thing out and have the bicycle path cross Snell Street on grade?

Every college kid who smashes a rental truck into that bridge has an accident "in Amherst" and jacks up the insurance rates not of the town she is from but those of Amherst-registered vehicles.

And I really hope that the state has something other than a "detour" sign -- something physically blocking the bike path, at least saw horses, maybe even an old telephone pole or pile of dirt, but something physically blocking the bike path in some way because otherwise it is inevitable that someone is going to ride a bicycle off into empty air.

It's probably a violation of something, but I'd simply dropped a chunk of the old structural steel on each side of the bike path just before the bridge abutment, it would be far better for someone to run into that than to over the edge and at least they would have some fair warning to hit their brakes...

Dr Ed said...

Larry -- a serious question and you used to ride a bicycle fairly often -- how far can you really REALLY see with those LED bicycle headlights?

In driving a motor vehicle, there is something known as "outrunning your headlights" -- not being able to see as far enough down the road as you really need to for the speed you are going. This is the cause of a lot of after-dark fatal accidents involving teenaged drivers -- alcohol and inexperience may exacerbate things but the simple fact is that at the speed they were going, no one could have seen what they hit with enough time to avoid it.

Teenagers -- folks, I am not talking UMass students but your own children and not just the boys, btw -- probably can get a bicycle going a lot faster than you might think, and yes they are going to do it.

So Larry, at the top speed you could get a bicycle going to -- at night and with the standard bike headlight - is there enough "something" out there to convince someone that he/she/it absolutely has to stop?

Not "should", not "is legally required to" but "will crash if you don't." And is whatever is there visible far enough away for a reckless teenager to be able to stop in time?

Personally, I would put a "Jersey Barrier" about 25-50 feet back from where the bridge isn't anymore. It might hurt to run into one of those but it would be far less painful than running straight off the edge and down 11 feet to the roadway below.

But is there anything there?

Snell Smell said...

Anonymous 11:08,

For some reason I think this isn't a prime reason your insurance rates go up, rather it is just the young population in general.

LarryK said...

Geeze, I gotta stop being so flip with my Comments (freaked out a Maria supporter over on the regional school article).

Just uploaded/updated the post to show photos of the warning signs/blockades set up to protect users from falling onto Snell Street.

You would have to be trying in order to do it -- and be trying real hard.

Anonymous said...

anon 11:08 very good point, sloping the bike path to street level and eliminating the narrow passage would have been the way to go. I can't believe they are not going to widen and straighten that bottleneck. I expect to get side-swiped every time I go through.

Anonymous said...

The narrow passage is like a speed bump. It slows you down.

I envy you if this looms as a big problem for you. You must be truly blessed in your life.

Congratulations.

Anonymous said...

First, some concrete needs to be placed atop the existing abutments, to receive the new steel superstructure. Next, the concrete needs some time to cure. Finally, the steel can be set in place.

Probably 3 more weeks, with the last week likely just redecking and fence-railing work up top for the rail trail itself (and not closing Snell St).

The clearance will increase by about 12 inches. The width will not change. And - for those who think a grade crossing is a better idea - I've got another bridge (to Brooklyn) to sell you! (Any idea how much earth would need to be moved to accomplish that? And what would it accomplish anyway? The new clearance will accommodate ambulances, firetrucks and snowplows - tractor trailers must stay on Rte 116....)

Dr. Ed said...

Larry, is any of that barricade reflectorized? And if not, maybe it should be because I am a firm believer in giving idiots fair warning and then telling them it is their own damn fault when they get hurt.

But having watched UMass work, I honestly wouldn't have been surprised to see an unobstructed bike path straight to the very edge.

And as to taking the whole thing out and putting a crossing at grade, one needs to remember that both the gravel fill and large granite blocks are inherently valuable items which could be sold/reused and thus offset the cost. Gravel is scarce in the valley and the RR usually brought in good stuff via hopper cars. And the blocks would make attractive vehicle barriers if not retaining walls.

Yes, the bottleneck slows down traffic right there but actually serves to speed it up on the rest of the road because once one clears it, one speeds up for the "good" part of the road.

Dr Ed said...

One other thing -- what is the environmental impact of a box truck (not just trailer truck) having to go around this bridge versus the pollution that would be created by everyone riding over it instead driving a compact car?

Trucks burn a LOT of fuel, a LOT for every start and stop of which there are a lot going around through downtown. (PVTA once told me that they get less than 4 MPG.)

You don't have to have very many trucks making all those starts/stops and taking the longer route around before you have vastly more pollution than you are avoiding by having bicycles being used. If the goal is political correctness that is one thing -- but if the actual goal is clean air, then, ummm.....

Oh, and yes, trees do pollute. That nice pine smell -- it's a hydrocarbon. The "Smoky Mountains" -- that's tree-generated smog which predates humanity. And the London Plane trees produce deadly Carbon Monoxide which is probably why they don't mind urban pollution.

A horse is a horse, of course of course said...

Ed, what the hell does UMass administration have to do with this?