Help Us Close One of Our Biggest Gaps – The Susquehanna River Crossing

Photo: Looking north (upstream) at the four spans near the mouth of the river, from near to far: Amtrak, US Route 40, freight rail, I-95. Credit: Ben Longstaff, IAN, UMCES

The 2,900-mile East Coast Greenway connects 15 states and more than two dozen major cities throughout the Eastern seaboard. There are many challenges to completing the trail (now 29% off-road on greenways), but one rises high above the rest: crossing the Susquehanna River. Did you know that in the state of Maryland there is no safe way to cross the Susquehanna on foot or by bike? The closest safe crossing is in Pennsylvania, over 23 miles upstream from Havre de Grace, Maryland. With your help, we can change that!

New Amtrak Bridge Planned

There are presently four crossings in the river’s southernmost stretch, two for autos and two for rail, and none permit bikes or pedestrians. One of these (Amtrak’s Susquehanna River Bridge) was completed in 1906, and is one of the most significant bottlenecks in Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor. The Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT) has been awarded $22 million to design this bridge’s replacement. This is a great first step, but it doesn’t guarantee that bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure will be built; we all know that when cost projections start rising, bike and ped features are often the first to be cut.

The 2035 Maryland Transportation Plan and the Draft Maryland Twenty-Year Bicycle & Pedestrian Master Plan set strong goals for enhancing non-motorized transportation in Maryland. This bridge, if properly designed and built with accommodation for walkers and cyclists, will be proof positive that MDOT walks the talk.

Please join the East Coast Greenway Alliance as we urge MDOT to build a bridge that will serve multiple modes, connecting communities by rail, bike, and foot, for the next 100 years. Together we can make our voices heard as we call for healthy and sustainable transportation infrastructure for the 21st century.

How Can YOU Help?

Many separate voices have much less strength than a single, strong, focused voice. Together we can make a difference. Join in this effort, have your voice heard:  sign this petition to support bicyclist and pedestrian access to the new bridge, and forward it to your friends! Please also contact our Mid-Atlantic Coordinator, Andy Hamilton (andy@greenway.org) for more ways to get involved.

We’ll provide updates as the new Amtrak bridge project progresses. Together, we can provide safe pedestrian and cyclist access across the Susquehanna River in Maryland, so that people using all modes can enjoy this beautiful and important waterway.

Wilmington Area Planning Council Transportation Improvements Plan (TIP)

Right now WILMAPCO, the Wilmington, DE, Area Planning Council is accepting comments on their 2015 – 2018 Transportation Improvement Plan (TIP). This includes the Susquehanna  Bridge Replacement project – the public may review and comment, so make your voice heard, and send comments about the project in before March 4th. (Anyone may comment, not only Delaware residents.)

Information from WILMAPCO: The WILMAPCO Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) is the regionally agreed upon 4-year list of priority transportation projects, as required by federal law (MAP-21). The TIP must list all projects that intend to use federal funds, along with all non-federally funded projects that are regionally significant, and includes bicycle, pedestrian, ITS, and freight related projects, as well as the more traditional highway and public transit projects. The draft TIP is available for public comment from January 13 – March 4, 2014.

Contact WILMAPCO for more information or to comment on the project: email (send to hdunigan@wilmapco.org), mail comments to WILMAPCO, 850 Library Ave., Suite 100, Newark, DE, 19711, or call (302) 737-6205, toll free from Cecil County, (888) 808-7088. Learn more at www.wilmapco.org/tip.