Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pedestrian retrofit in Concord, NC

I recently visited Concord, NC, a city of 80,000 just northeast of Charlotte, and came across what I consider to be a pretty innovative pedestrian retrofit of an existing bridge (see images below). Given, it's not an ideal pedestrian setting, but it's certainly a meaningful design modification in recognition of existing pedestrian traffic.  Flex-poles are often used on bicycle cycle tracks, so their application here was a quick, cost-effective way of creating pedestrian space between two newer sidewalk links.

The bridge and street were likely built when this southwestern corner of Concord was the semi-rural edge of town, a basic 2-lane farm-to-market road.  Add several decades of urban growth and you eventually have residential neighborhoods on either side of the bridge.  North of the bridge, much of the Logan neighborhood was originally built for textile mill workers, and like many Piedmont mill villages, development standards were pretty basic and often excluded sidewalks in the early 1900s.  With a push for sidewalks and Complete Streets starting in the 1990s and continuing now, the images below are the result.

The sidewalks are newer, with Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) sidewalk ramps to transition pedestrians from the bridge/street pavement to the sidewalks.  Once the bridge reaches the end of its design life, building a bridge with a sidewalk will make sense.  In the meantime, this is a clever design solution to fill the sidewalk gap until the bridge needs replacing.

Lincoln St. SW, looking north

Overview of sidewalk gap, Lincoln St./Rutherford St. SW, Concord, NC

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