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OBPA reiterates policy against bicycles, pedestrians on international bridge

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The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority will not reverse a 23-year-old policy that forbids bicyclists and pedestrians from crossing its Ogdensburg-Prescott International Bridge.

Meeting Wednesday, the authority board discussed several inquiries it has received about allowing recreation-minded and tourist bicycle riders and walkers on the span. Board members said both authority policy and state law from 1990 are for safety reasons.

“We’d like to have tourism,” said Sam J. La Macchia, the board’s chairman. “But safety is number one.”

OBPA Executive Director Wade A. Davis reminded the board of the findings of a December 2011 review on possible bicycle and pedestrian use by the authority’s bridge consulting engineers, Greenman-Pedersen Inc. of Albany.

“It’s not safe,” he said. “And it not something that we’regoing to compromise on.”

According to Greenman-Pedersen Bridge Department Manager John P. Simkulet, the safety as well as security factors include:

n The elevated safety walks on the bridge are less than five feet in width. “With the safety walk in place, there is no shoulder for bicyclists to use, forcing them to ride in the travel lane,” Mr. Simkulet wrote in his review. “There also exists no ramp for bicycles to transition from the main span deck up onto the raised walks.”

n The open-grid, steel deck, the review concluded, “is an uncomfortable surface for bicyclists” and the bridge’s downgrade “can be dangerous for thin-tired bicycles.”

n Pedestrians, according to Mr. Simkulet, “in the interest of Homeland Security,” should not have access to the bridge’s piers through hatches along the safety walk.

n The bridge is home to nested, federally protected peregrine falcons.

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