Special Reports

Lane for bikers, walkers needs a bit more work

Bikers and pedestrians will be able to use the new Tacoma Narrows bridge, but not right away.

The span has a 10-foot-wide lane for bikers and walkers on its south side, protected from traffic by a 32-inch-high concrete barrier. That should be a vast improvement over the 1950 bridge, where walkers and bikers cross essentially unprotected, just inches from traffic.

The bad news is that the new bike lane did not open with the rest of the bridge Sunday night and might not open for three to four months, depending on how construction progresses.

The pedestrian railing is in place, but it’s not completely attached, said Jeff Carpenter, the state’s project manager. Also, he said, Tacoma Narrows Constructors still has some painting to complete beneath the new bridge, and the contractor will need the bike lane for access.

Until the sidewalk on the new bridge opens, bikers and walkers will continue to use the old bridge.

The sidewalk and the south lane of the old bridge will be closed while TNC does retrofitting work, so walkers and bikers will have to use the sidewalk on the north side of the bridge.

When the new bridge is completely open, the sidewalks on both sides of the existing bridge will be permanently closed to pedestrians and bikes, according to transportation spokeswoman Claudia Cornish.

Access to the old bridge is at the foot of 10th Street on the Tacoma side and, on the Gig Harbor side, along the westbound off-ramp to 24th Street.

When the bike lane on the new bridge opens, bikers on the Gig Harbor side will use the Cushman Trail to 14th Avenue, then ride across the 24th Street overpass and down the shoulder of the 24th eastbound on-ramp to the toll plaza and onto the bridge.

On the Tacoma side, bikers will use a separated bike path that parallels the Jackson eastbound exit.

Neither pedestrians nor bicyclists will have to pay tolls, Cornish said.