Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Bicyclists Beware: Hazards During Construction on Baker and Grove in NOPA

Baker bike lane southbound: curb to curb to be paved in weeks ahead

Grove bike route pavement construction hazards, between Baker and Lyon

Two to three inch trench after initial PUC work on Grove

Defined edges like this should have asphalt shoved up to them for safety

UPDATE, Wednesday, March 30, 5pm
This afternoon Ms. Dadisi Najib, DPW Public Information Officer, reviewed the street conditions and hazards for bicyclists on Grove and Baker. She followed up within hours of being alerted to the problem. She confirmed that curb-to-curb repaving is planned for Grove between Baker and Lyon and for the blocks of Baker recently worked on. She also said she would find out about DPW's or the construction firm's interim plans for reducing risks for bicyclists by shoving asphalt along the edges ("cutback") of the construction lip.

The Public Utilities Commission is replacing sewer lines under North Panhandle streets, and that's a good thing. The city's aging infrastructure -- above and below ground -- needs all the attention it can get. But the construction itself is creating problems with a lack of attention to safety precautions and warnings to bicyclists.

Grove street between Baker and Lyon has been plagued with the tell-tale signs of sewer problems -- large sinkholes and many fill-ins -- for years. Now the sewer lines have been replaced but the temporary surface has been left two to three inches below grade with hard-edged trenches. Baker between McAllister and Fell has similar trenches. None of the drop-offs have asphalt shoved against them to smooth travel along the block, and, in a few areas, the trenches cut directly across the Baker bike lane and Grove bikeway.

Once all the sewer work is completed, the city will repave the blocks curb-to-curb. Although it's more economical to resurface the blocks at the same time, it's unnecessarily hazardous to leave the trenches as they are and not post warning signs. The city will likely address the risks, but, in the meantime, bikers beware, especially at night if you're unfamiliar with the street conditions.

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