2022/04 – South Path Plan

Public comments to NJTPA, 5/9/22 and PANYNJ, 4/28/22

Later this year, the Port Authority will open the rebranded GWB NorthWalk when it moves the recabling project to the South side.

NORTHWALK Darren Bartels2#1 – New York entrance to GWB NorthWalk.  Photo Darren T. Bartells.

The Agency will then face a choice.  It can allow thousands of pedestrians and cyclists to share a facility not half-as-wide as needed for safe operation—or it can make everyone walk the sole bike-able Hudson crossing between New York City and North Jersey.2 3 4  

Today I offer two plans to address the problem—one quick, the other permanent.

Quick

Image #2 below depicts a catwalk now deployed along the South Path.  It is cantilevered outside the upper deck supports and fenced in by an orange safety net.  Access is by a short flight of stairs at each end.  

Once work is complete, the catwalk can be re-purposed as a limited use bikeway.

original_south_bike_lane_01#2 – Catwalk spanning GWB South Path.   Looking west from the NJ-side tower.

The “quick fix” entails spanning the cantilevers with lightweight fiberglass decking5 and re-deploying the safety net currently strung across the upper level.  Access would remain by stairs.

The path is just wide enough for one-way operation, but the Agency would have new capacity to manage demand on the NorthWalk during periods of peak use.

Permanent

Image #3 shows a permanent 10’ wide bikeway running below the upper deck supports.  The bikeway routes through the towers following the same track as the walkway.  The two paths merge at the new access ramps.

#3 – Design for permanent bikeway under existing sidewalk.  Rendering Joseph Lertola.

• Because the suspension cables—which choke down the upper path every sixty feet—don’t extend to the lower level, cyclists can use the full 10’ width for the length of the span.

• The new bikeway would be sheltered from falling ice—a principal cause for winter closure.

• Containing the path within the existing structure should simplify design and reduce cost.

I have asked the Agency to vet these proposals, including the potential for external funding. 

The limitations of the current design will hobble the growth of cycling across the region for a generation.6 7  Factor the durable benefits resulting from a robust connector and the broad public support,8 and the PA should have a competitive application.

Neile Weissman, 2022

Notes

1 “NorthWalk,” Complete George, 11/21, https://tinyurl.com/2szsh3hy

2 “Capacity & Demand,” Ibid, 9/16, https://tinyurl.com/mr3kuxwx

3 “National Standards,” Ibid, 8/17, https://tinyurl.com/2p8kv836

4 “Safety, Litigation and the Demise of Cycling on the GWB,” Ibid, 9/17, https://tinyurl.com/5mxz7sjy

5 “Fiberglass-Reinforced-Polymer (FRP) decking,” Creative Composites Group, 8/4/20, https://tinyurl.com/2p8xc3xf

6 “Ten Ways ‘Restore the George’ Gets it Wrong,” Complete George, 3/20, https://tinyurl.com/2p93e8ks

7 “Tri-State Trail Network,” Regional Plan Association, 2017, https://tinyurl.com/4n5rdmam

8 “Supporters,” Complete George, 1/22, https://tinyurl.com/2p8m48ef