Monday, November 26, 2012

Restore the Shore Better than Before!

You have seen the disaster photos over and over, but what I noticed in these photos was that the most basic forms of transportation - walking and biking were the only viable ways to get around in the hours immediately after the storm. In the absence of subways, traffic signals and even gas stations, Bike Portland did an excellent job of documenting the surge of bicycle traffic in Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn. On a lesser scale pictures from the barrier islands showed the same thing. Roads were either destroyed or covered with sand and debris that made car travel impossible.

Buried within the $30 billion dollar price tag are miles of damaged boardwalks and multi-use paths.Check out the shambles left over from the Sandy Hook Bikeway and the Henry Hudson Trail.  The tourist packed boardwalks will be rebuilt very quickly (perhaps too quickly). But the lesser used off-road paths may be pushed way down the priority list and perhaps in the case of the frequently damaged Bayshore section of the Henry Hudson Trail,a discussion about a total redesign. It is going to take a concerted effort by bicycle and walking advocates to bring these trails back up to speed

Multi-Use Path at Sandy Hook

The discussion of sustainable redevelopment of the coast is focused around the restoration of natural features to buffer the damage that robust coastal storms bring as well as implementing stricter building codes. But this rebuild is also an opportunity to create a more sustainable and safer transportation system as well.

Route 35 between Island Beach and Pt. Pleasant is a great example. In the 50's and 60's this road was expanded to create a four lane highway through some of the most densely built beach communities in the state. While there are wide shoulders, much of the road lacks sidewalks, crosswalks and even landscaping. To reform minded planners and landscape architects Route 35 looks like a blank slate.

View Larger Map
We can make this a complete street! Photoshop anyone?

The need to cross major arterials in shore communities is very strong. Accommodating all those beachgoers with beachfront parking would require huge and unsightly parking fields. So most renters and weekend visitors use the best ways available to get there - on two feet or two wheels (or sometimes 3 wheels). These roads are often the biggest barriers to get to the beach and can be especially frightening for groups with lots of gear and small children.

The rebuild of roads like Route 35 and Route 71 will put the NJ's complete streets policy to the test. County roads such as Long Beach Blvd are not subject to the State's policy, but the discussion to make all roads ravaged by Superstorm Sandy safer begins Today!


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