July 07, 2011
And during rush hour (5pm) to boot.
VDOT decided to close the Route 1 path connector to Washington St/Mt Vernon Trail/Wilson Bridge, in order to do maintenance on the light poles on the bridge over Cameron Run. This in-and-of-itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, but they chose to do it during evening rush hour, when there are a fair number of people bicycling home to Huntington along the path. Nevermind that it prevented being able to count bikes and pedestrians this evening as part of the National Bicycle and Pedestrian Documentation Project.
There was just barely enough room to squeeze by the trucks on a bicycle, and I doubt the workers even noticed me, but to "follow the rules" here put a big inconvenience on bicyclists and pedestrians using the connection. Neither of the two possible detour routes is particularly safe, and both add additional distance that is longer than the connection itself. The somewhat-safer/more-likely of the detour routes, to the south around Belle Haven Country Club, adds a mile-and-a-half extra distance (a full 30 minutes for the average pedestrian), has segments along both Fort Hunt Rd and Belle Haven Rd that lack shoulders and sidewalks, and involves a dangerous, unsignalized crossing of heavy rush-hour traffic on George Washington Pkwy.
If VDOT really needed to shut down the path, so be it. But do it during mid-day, when you're affecting the fewest possible path users. They wouldn't close down a highway ramp during rush hour for normal maintenance...why close down a bike/ped path with no decent alternative?