ALERT: Will bike/ped be included on the Champ Clark Bridge replacement, crossing Mississippi River near Louisiana?

MoDOT is replacing the Champ Clark Bridge over the Mississippi River.  It is the only river crossing between Hannibal MO & Alton IL in the St Louis metro area. Current plans are for wide shoulders for the new bridge, but no sidewalk or pedestrian accommodation.

Champ Clark Bridge
Champ Clark Bridge

As with other river bridges in Missouri, MoDOT and IDOT will be more willing to include good, safe bicycle and pedestrian accommodations on this bridge if the public speaks up and clearly asks for them.

Major river bridges like this are vital infrastructure that affects the availability of bicycling and walking routes in the nearby cities, in the region around the bridge, and across the state. Whether you live, work, or vacation in the area--or would like to!--your voice is a welcome part of this conversation.

If you would like to contact MoDOT, please ask them to make sure that the bridge is accessible to people who bicycle AND walk.

Suggested comments

When you contact MoDOT about this bridge, it will be helpful if you can support the comments the Missouri Bicycle & Pedestrian Federation made in support of a higher level of bicycle and pedestrian access on the bridge. Points you may make:

The Mississippi River 5K crosses the bridge--how about opening the bridge to peo
The Mississippi River 5K crosses the bridge--how about opening the bridge to people who walk and run EVERY day of the week?

  • Both safe bicycle and safe pedestrian accessibility for the bridge is important
  • The bridge has attractive pedestrian destinations at each end, separated by only 0.75 miles
  • The bridge needs a safe way for pedestrians to cross, ie, a sidewalk
  • Other similar bridges in similar locations in Missouri have included bicycle and pedestrian accommodations; Louisiana needs the same accommodations for the same reasons
  • This is the one opportunity in our lifetimes to create a pedestrian accessible crossing of the Mississippi River in this location
  • The sidewalk and bridge itself will become a recreation and tourism attraction for the area, enhancing the value of the bridge to the community

More detail about MoDOT/IDOT plans for the Champ Clark Bridge

MoDOT has indicated to us that plans for the bridge replacement are not settled. They plan to use a design-build process for the bridge replacement project, meaning that the public will not have an opportunity to view and give feedback on specific plans.

The current Champ Clark Bridge is just 20 feet wide
The current Champ Clark Bridge is just 20 feet wide

However, the general direction then are planning is to replace the current 20-foot wide through-truss bridge with a 44-foot wide two-lane bridge.  That means two 12-foot lanes and 10 foot shoulders.

That is a tremendous improvement over the current bridge but we feel very strongly that the project needs to include a barrier-protected sidewalk on the bridge as well.

The west end of the bridge connects directly to downtown Louisiana, MO, and the east end is at a marina/campground/hotel area, just 0.75 miles away.

People don't walk between those two areas now, obviously--because the bridge is extremely unsafe for pedestrians. But people WOULD walk across the bridge if it were safe to do so.

We also believe that both bicycle and pedestrian accessibility can be provided at relatively low cost.

Bicycle use of the bridge

Two national bicycle routes come through this area, and could use this bridge if it is bicycle accessible:

The addition crossing point at Louisiana will be very helpful for the MRT route, as it creates an additional point of connection between the Missouri and Illinois routes.  This is especially important because Hwy 79 just north of the St Louis metro area is very problematic for bicycling. This means that most MRT bicyclists choose the IL route and end up skipping Louisiana and Hannibal, which are areas that would like to promote that type of tourism.

An improved Champ Clark Bridge gives us the opportunity to add the Champ Clark Bridge to the MRT route and promote the Louisiana-Hannibal section as a destination with many attractions, camping, and lodging that is also easily accessible to bicycle tourists from both the MO and IL sides.

The Strava Bicycling Heatmap of this area shows that the bridge--even in its current form--is a vital bicycle transportation link.  Several connecting links and loop route incorporate both the Champ Clark and Hannibal bridges as vital elements.

It is also apparent that if the current narrow and dangerous bridge attracts a significant amount of bicycle usage already, a new, improved bridge with wide shoulders will undoubtedly attract even more bicycle use.

The need for pedestrian access on the new bridge

The City of Louisiana is immediately on one side of the bridge and Two Rivers Marina on the other. The marina is a very attractive pedestrian destination--the area offers river views, fishing, camping, and other recreational opportunities, besides a store, camping, and the marina itself.  The marina is just 3/4 mile from 3rd Street in Louisiana, easy walking distance.  This makes the marina an attractive pedestrian destination from the city.

However, even more important is the accessibility of the city from the marina for people who are docked or camping at the marina. People who have traveled to the marina by boat rely on walking (or bicycling) to reach nearby destinations.  Pedestrian access is also important for campers.  These users will be more than willing to walk 3/4 mile across the river to various attractions in Louisiana.  For many of these users, walking is the only available mode of transportation, or the most convenient.

In addition, there is a second hotel, Mississippi Valley Lodging, just 1.25 miles from Louisiana--again an easy walk.

With good, safe pedestrian access across the river, businesses like these have an opportunity they have never had before, to exist and thrive on the eastern side on the river while still remaining within easy walking distance of the city of Louisiana.

In addition, a pedestrian walkway will in itself be an attraction of interest to the community and for area tourism.  The river, city, and immediate area offers some truly stunning views of the river and river valley, but there are very limited opportunities to view them.  A pedestrian walkway on the bridge will create this tourism and scenic opportunity at very little additional cost.

Every community in Missouri that has recently included a walkway on a river bridge has found that that walkway itself has indeed become an attraction and a valued part of the bridge and the community.

Finally, we believe that a pedestrian walkway can be included in the bridge design at little additional cost.  A five-foot separated walkway--similar to that found on the Boonville Hwy 5 bridge--is minimal but usable and could be included on the proposed 44-foot bridge with by reducing shoulders to 7 feet.  If wider shoulders are desired, bridge width could be increased slightly. Either way, there is an opportunity to create pedestrian access here that fits well within existing conceptions and cost estimates for the bridge.

Thank you

Thank you for contacting MoDOT and IDOT about the importance of bicycle and pedestrian accessibility on major river bridges.  Your voice really does make a difference.

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