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‘Walkway’ Developments At Chautauqua Lake Bridge

There is a “walkway” of sorts being built at the Chautauqua Lake Bridge, though it is not a “bikeway/walkway” for the general public. What is under construction is a walkway and scaffolding platform for workers who will be rebuilding the bridge.

I had wondered what was causing the recent closed-lane activity on the bridge, and that is now evident–a deck is being constructed under the bridge in order to enable construction access to the bridge itself.

It is actually a unique-looking structure with cables attached to the girders which are then slung down to support a frame upon which a steel sub-deck is being laid. It is as wide as the bridge itself. It all makes perfect sense when you are about to inaugurate a $78 million reconstruction of an existing bridge.

Actually, from my vantage point, it is also another argument as to why we should be able to construct a permanent walkway/bikeway over the lake.

Obviously, if the bridge can support the weight of this extensive temporary structure now being built then it should be able to support the weight of a permanent pedestrian way which would have a substantially narrower and lighter engineering footprint.

At least, we now know that we don’t face an engineering problem. What we have is a financing/governmental problem. Can the money be found to construct a permanent walkway/bikeway over Chautauqua Lake at the Chautauqua Lake Bridge? If they can have a pedestrian way on the Brooklyn Bridge or the new Tappan Zee Bridge over the Hudson River, why can’t it be done here?

It would seem to me that those interested in environmental tourism should have an interest. A walkway over the lake would connect hikers who might want to visit Long Point State Park and then walk down through Bemus, cross over the lake and visit the pristine nature sanctuary at Tom’s Point on the other side of the lake. There is also an area along Ball Creek on the Stow side of the lake owned by the Conservancy which could be incorporated into this.

A bikeway would also appeal to those who enjoy biking around the lake but who may only want to go half-way around. They could cross the lake between Bemus and Stow.

It would seem to me that joggers and runners would also use a pedestrian-way over the bridge. It would be great exercise and a beautiful venue from which to view Chautauqua Lake during a run.

And, why wouldn’t the State DOT itself want to do it? They just resurfaced Washington Street in Jamestown, and, as part of that improvement, created a marked-paved shoulder for bikers with green-painted bike turning lanes at major intersections. A bikeway over the Chautauqua Lake Bridge would align with the DOT’s own self-mandate to promote such activity.

I made an inquiry to the State of New York DOT on this matter, and was advised that to accomplish such an addition to the bridge, the public would need to “contact their elected officials.” If you are interested in pedestrian access and a bikeway across the Chautauqua Lake Bridge – you will have to become involved…otherwise, it won’t happen.

Rolland Kidder is a Stow resident.

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