There has been a series of construction projects on the Mount Vernon Trail this year. Usually the construction crews do a decent job of giving trail users safe passage through their work zones. Usually. This year on two occasions, construction crews put in detours that were downright dangerous to bicyclists. If you think I am just whining, keep in mind that I nearly crashed in both of these detours and I have been ridden bikes for well over 60,000 miles. Less experienced riders are goners.
So trail users complained. The detours were fixed. Now comes detour number 3, brought to you by the same folks who screwed up detour number 2 in August. Back then, the Jones Point Park rehabilitation project required construction crews to tear up the pavement on the trail under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. They put down packed dirt and stone in its place. This patch was in the shade so that riders had little warning of the change in surface until they were on top of it. After much bitching and moaning, the dirt patch was replaced by a bumpy paved patch. For the life of me I cannot understand why this patch wasn’t smoothed out. Nevertheless it was an improvement.
Now that patch has been torn up again. Instead of going straight under the bridge, a detour takes riders in a U, along the bridge for 100 yards then under the bridge and back along the opposite side. Easy to do, right? Wrong. They screwed it up again. As you approach the bottom of the U, the contractors paved a narrow, 90-degree turn. Apparently realizing that this was inadequate for all but the slowest cyclist, the contractor laid down packed dirt and stone on the inside of the turn. Didn’t they get the message the first time!!!???? I guarantee that someone will crash on this turn.
Once you cross under the bridge you make your way back along the far side of the bridge. This is paved, with what must be the most pathetic pavement job in the developed world. In the middle of this picture you may be able to make out how the pavement is giving way. My front and rear tires sunk into the trail here almost bringing my bike and me to the ground.
So let’s make a new rule. If you going to put in a detour on the Mount Vernon Trail, you have to rollerblade on it every day. Maybe then the contractors and the city will get their act together.