16 January 2008

Henderson Bridge Madness

I don't like the Henderson Bridge, as many know. That's why I have come up with three (count them, three!!!) possible ways to avoid the Henderson Bridge to get out to Massachusetts for some riding.

Unfortunately, they all go through Pawtucket - and going through Pawtucket is never a good thing. Why? Well, let's consider some of the most popular reasons for going to Pawtucket:
-I went to Pawtucket to go to the RI DMV.
-I went to Pawtucket because I know somebody at the RI DMV.
-I went to Pawtucket to get trashed at a really, really sketchy bar.
-I went to Pawtucket to score some crack next to an abandoned factory.
-I went to Pawtucket because I work at an abandoned factory.
-I went to Pawtucket because my name is Peter Griffin and I work in a beer factory there.
-I went to Pawtucket to go fishing off the Division Street Bridge (seriously, read this Projo article).
-I went to Pawtucket to dispose of a dead body off of the Division Street Bridge.
-I went to Pawtucket because I live there.

Pawtucket has a train station

Actually I'm being unfair - Pawtucket is certainly the embodiment of what Rhode Island was pre-Providence-gentrification-douchebagification. Pawtucket is the reason why Rhode Island is ranked the 48th "least mentally depressed" state in the country.

Sorry for this digression into Pawtucket. The point is that, apparently, RIDOT decided that the Henderson Bridge needs major critical repairs (duh!) because it is unsafe (duh!). So they're going to turn it into a hellacious construction zone for the year of 2008 (i.e. the next decade). Presumably, this will require at least four dozen police officers to oversee the construction (as is the law, apparently, in Rhode Island and Massachusetts):

Rhode Island State Troopers - ranked best-dressed in the nation (seriously)

Actually a police presence wouldn't be so bad for once. The speed limit is posted at 35mph on the Henderson, but everyone goes at least 65mph since the bridge isn't really in any city (it's over the water dividing Providence and East Providence), all Rhode Islanders know legal loopholes ten times better than Dick Cheney and three times better than Chicago street-gangs, and RI state troopers are too busy doing Canadian Mountie impressions on the steps of the capitol building.

According to Bike-To-Brown, an organization made up of people who like to bike to Brown, this is what will happen to new Little Red Bridge:
  1. The Eastbound lane, once you ramp onto the bridge from Waterman will be reduced to one 10′ travel lane.
  2. Eastbound (1st) Massasoit Ave. off-ramp will be closed for approximately 6 months once the interim repairs begin.
  3. Sidewalks will remain open. RIDOT is currently deciding whether or not to post signs directing cyclists (& pedestrians) to use the sidewalks and for cyclists to dismount and walk their bikes across the bridge sidewalk. Railing height is not up to specs. for bicycle use/travel.
Hmmm. Getting me to ride on the sidewalk on the Henderson. Never again - I tried it once at night before (see One Ridiculous Ride - Rhode Island at Night from the Bike). Actually since I'm not a commuter and really only care about training to race my bike fast, the only large way that this will impact me is trying to get to the East Bay Bike Path for, like, a nice recovery ride. Taking the Pawtucket detour to get to the Bike Path would be 15 extra miles, about. And I actually wouldn't mind taking up the whole lane on the Henderson the whole way just to say that I, for once, forced traffic to slow down on the Henderson. But I sure as hell ain't walking my bike over the entire bridge since that'd take well over 10 minutes WITHOUT cleated cycling shoes. I can't wait until I return to Rhode Island...

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