Thursday, August 06, 2009

The Long Way Home

Sorry folks, no pictures; my phone battery was dying.

Anyway, tonight several people from our club attended a meeting to unveil the design of a new bridge to be built in Fort Worth. I rode into work in the cool of the morning (about 7 miles), then after work I rode when it in the mid 90s another 7 miles to the Botanical Gardens where the meeting was held. I rode with a guy I work with; he drove to work but his wife showed up at quitting time with their bikes. The three of us rode down the Trinity River Trail. I started out in front on my hybrid commuter and tried to cut a decent pace into a slight headwind... I was doing about 17-18 mph. When I started to falter, Marty took over and led the rest of the way on his road bike.

We stopped for a bite to eat at Ol' South Pancake House, then went to the meeting. Six people from our club showed up, five on our bikes and wearing club jerseys (plus the son of one of the members). Except for a short ride to connect to the Trinity River Trail, the whole ride was virtually on the trail itself. Riding is so much better when you don't have to climb steep hills, wait for traffic lights, or mess with traffic.

The bridge will be an extension of Stonegate Boulevard east from Hulen Street into a currently undeveloped area that will soon be known as Clearfork. It's pretty much right in the city, on the near southwest side. The bridge will connect Hulen with new development and provide a route across to Bryant Irvin Road, just south of a massive rail yard. This pass-through may really help my commute. They plan to start construction in the spring and be complete by summer the following year.

The proposed bridge design is rather stunning. It will consist of three spans: East- and west-bound motor traffic, two lanes each way, and a third span between them and a little below that will be for pedestrians and bikes only. It will tie into the existing Trinity River Trail on each bank, aiding both recreational and transportation riding. It will provide something I've said this city has needed for a while: a viable route that crosses the river instead of just running along it. (Fort Worth has two major barriers to bike travel- the river and the rail yard, meaning bike traffic is forced to funnel onto a few very busy roads with bridges over them).

The purpose of the bridge is to link the new Clearfork development to the Hulen retail district, but also to facilitate non-motorized access to river trails. The design looks like it will succeed in meeting all these purposes.

After the meeting, I rode home alone. It was a nice, quiet night ride; it's been a while since I've done one of those. Without mapping it, I'd say the ride home was at least 12 miles and I did it easily within about 45 minutes. I found some nice quiet routes and hardly stopped at all. And it was cool. Waiting until 9 pm to commute home has its perks.


RANTWICK said...

I love the long way home, in whatever form it takes that day! Yours sounds pretty nice too, thanks for reminding me.

I've been driving all this week thanks to a minor injury that is refusing to heal without resting one of my arms in almost every way. It's driving me a little nuts; excuse the pun.

Doohickie said...

I hear ya. I hate it when I can't ride.

Rat Trap Press said...

So the bridge will allow access to the north side of the river. Will there be a safe way to cross to the north side of the railyard? It would be nice to have a quick easy way to get to Central Market without having to go west all the way to University or ride through the Como area just to get around the railyard.

Doohickie said...

They touched on the fact that when they build the Southwest Parkway, they will be reconstructing the Hulen bridge over the rail yard. They said that the new bridge will include a separate bike/pedestrian lane separate from the motor lanes.

The Clearfork bridge should be done by summer of 2011; I think the new Hulen Street bridge over the rail yard is supposed to be complete the next year.