Let’s get the Long Bridge right.

The Virginia Passenger Rail Authority (VPRA) shared plans for the Long Bridge Project during a public meeting on June 22nd. Those plans included a design flaw that will impact people who wish to walk or roll across the bridge: it’s not wide enough. We have two new opportunities to call for improvements to widen the design of the Long Bridge bike and pedestrian span (comments due by July 10th).

Improve the Long Bridge Bike/Ped Bridge Design for the Long-Term by:

  1. Responding to a VPRA design feedback survey.
  2. Emailing comments to the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC).

Suggested comments are at the bottom of this post.

New bridges are rare; this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to significantly improve transportation across the Potomac River, doubling rail capacity and creating new connections for people walking and biking from Long Bridge Park in Arlington, VA to East Potomac Park in DC.

The current design is 14’ wide with vertical safety barriers on either side. Though 14’ is a good design for a trail through a park, the barriers on either side narrow the effective usable width of the trail. Trail users, especially those on bikes and scooters, are often uncomfortable riding close to vertical barriers. VDOT’s trail guidelines recognize this and require a 3’ buffer between a trail and any vertical barrier. When 3’ of usable space on both sides of the trail is removed, the remaining 8’ of remaining trail space would be insufficient for the expected number of trail users, not to mention the potential growth in pedestrian traffic over time. Building a wide-enough trail from the start will avoid later difficulties and expenses associated with expanding later, such as limitations due to the width of a truss bridge.

There are currently two ways for you to weigh in: provide feedback through a survey to the project lead and share comments with the National Capital Planning Committee who will provide input on the plan. See below for suggested comments you can personalize in your response.

Call for improved design of the Long Bridge Bike/Pedestrian Bridge: 

  1. Comment on the VPRA survey asking them to correct design flaws.
  2. Email the NCPC before they review the Long Bridge Project Plan.

Suggested comments are at the bottom of this post.

WABA has been invested in the effort to build a better Long Bridge for over a decade, standing alongside the more than 1,400 community members who submitted comments on the project (read more here). Let’s seize this opportunity to ensure the Long Bridge Project meets our communities’ needs, now and into the future!

Suggested Comments: 

Include some variation of the following comments for Question #5 of the VPRA Feedback Form, as well as in an email to info@ncpc.gov, with the subject line “Comments on Long Bridge Project”

The proposed 14′ wide bike/ped bridge is too narrow. Due to the vertical barriers on each side of the trail, the usable width will be only 8-10′, too narrow for the expected volumes of bike/ped users when it opens, not to mention the increased numbers of trail users that will use the bridge in the future,

It is difficult and expensive to widen a bridge once it’s built. Instead, VPRA should build the Long Bridge for the future. For example, even though the rest of the W&OD trail is significantly narrower, the recently-built W&OD Trail Bridge over Langston Blvd features a 20′ clear width.

Given the length of the bridge, it would be difficult and slow to get emergency services to the site of a bike/ped crash on the bridge. The bridge width should recognize this hazard and strive to minimize potential conflicts by ensuring sufficient width for the expected future traffic growth.

Page 22-12 of the Draft Long Bridge EIS indicated that “The materials and dimensions of the bridge would be confirmed in a final design phase following completion of the EIS”. We must take the opportunity to call for a wider bike/ped bridge now to ensure our comments are included in the review process.