In some ways NJDOT is a leader in bicycle and pedestrian and Safe routes to School facilitation but in too many others ways its the same old 1960's NJDOT. Recently NJDOT announce that it will be repairing two bridges in Somerset County which happens to have some of the best road cycling in the state. Unfortunately NJDOT failed to recognize cyclists needs in their closure plans.
In Franklin Township it will be replacing and rehabilitating the bridge that goes over the Delaware and Raritan Canal on the Weston (Manville) Causeway near Manville. According to the press release, the bridge will be closed until early summer. The press release then goes into significant detail about detours for motor vehicles. However this bridge is directly adjacent to the Canal Towpath which is a very popular bicycle route and part of the East Coast Greenway. There is also a parking lot on east side of the canal which serves the Tow Path on the west side (not seen in the Google image below). The bridge to be closed is the only access from the parking lot to the path. While it may be inevitable that the bridge will need to be closed to all forms of traffic, there are no details given about how this project might effect or even close the Tow Path. There is no information if pedestrian and cycling access might be maintained over the bridge during the project, and if not, a detour for bicyclist and pedestrians that might be not be so effected by detoured motor traffic.
While cyclists familiar with this area should be able to navigate around the Weston Causeway closure with only little problem, further north in Bedminster, the closure of Burnt Mills Road as bridges are rebuilt over both I287 and I78 will cause significant inconvenience for cyclists. This area is exceptionally popular with cyclists as riders will come down from Washington Valley Drive and connect to Burnt Mills Road and the fantastic cycling roads to the west. The bridge replacement project will last until the end of 2014. In the NJDOT press release, detours are given for but use I78 and I287. It is rather disappointing that the detours given by NJDOT are simply not an option for cyclists and that the press release mentions noting about bicyclist or pedestrian needs. Fortunately WalkBikeJersey has you covered with the bicycle friendly detour provided below.
We all understand that these bridges need to be repaired and that closure to all traffic; motor, bike and pedestrian is likely the only way to safely get the work done. However, failure to address the needs of cyclists regarding these road closures by NJDOT in areas that is exceptionally popular with cyclists is just not acceptable today.