Monday, November 19, 2012

A Bridge Too Far

I'd read on the local newspaper that a new bridge has been opened for traffic. The bridge was built connect one of the islands at the mouth of the river to the mainland.The bridge is where the green smudge is on the map below.
Oh, wait! What's that thing on the right? It's the old bridge, and it's pretty much on the desire line of people going east towards downtown or pretty much anywhere in Oulu. So why was the new bridge built? The distance between the old bridge and the new one is about 500 meters, so the savings in time and vehicle kilometers are minimal. For pedestrians, saving a kilometer or two is huge. But for a 20km/h cyclist that 2 km is a only 6 minutes saved. They should have built a bike/ped bridge and let the motorists drive.

Well, people north of the water wanted a shorter trip to Nallikari (camping and swimming area etc) and people on the south wanted a shorter route to shops north of the river. Lots of new housing has been built on the island lately, and construction on the north side is going on.

And when there is some big event with loads of car traffic on the island the only bridge will get jammed. Now the car drivers have a new rat run. There has already been complaints that the bridge is too narrow for HGV's and that the pedestrian/cycle space is too wide. :-)

So, I got curious and decided to go and see the bridge for myself. Rather than looking at the map or reading the newspapers more carefully to see where exactly this new bridge was, I decided to just hop on the bike and try to find it by guessing. The maps at the beginning of the post were made after the ride, when I started writing this.

My first guess where the  bridge was that it would be somewhere behind the power station. It seemed logical: the route would continue straight across the bay, without any turns.

 But what the heck, they've blocked the street and built a fence.

Looks like that was not the route to the new bridge. As I knew there already was one bridge to the island, I thought it might be further to the west, closer to the sea. It wouldn't make any sense to build them too close to each other, would it? After riding on soggy gravel paths through thickets I finally came to a clearing where I could see where I was.
 Now, that tiny thing in the middle of the picture looks like the sightseeing tower on the beach of Nallikari, also seen before on this blog and on my YT videos. It's on the west coast and the island ends there, so I must have gone a bit too far west. As there was nothing but bushes between this spot and and the power plant, the bridge must be on the other side of the power plant.

After retracing my steps and trying another route I finally found myself behind that big red building.

Here's a video of the ride from there to here and then back over the bridge. I'd say a lot more people than normally would see on a bridge, so they were sightseeing too.

The bridge from the side. Not very spectacular. Just across the harbor canal.

At one end of the bridge there is this nasty gap, a movement seam I guess.

For some reason they couldn't make it smooth. Both sides of the seam are level, but the seam is in a depression. It is definitely notable while riding and you can see it on the video too. Well, I guess it is better than having the edges of the seam protruding out of the asphalt. (Maybe the snow plow will not catch it now?)

The new bridge looks good, and I'll be monitoring the newspaper to see how long it'll take until there will be complaints of increased traffic on the new rat runs. As both motorist bridges are on the same end of the island it is kind of a dead end for motorists. But more of the traffic shifts to new streets with the new bridge.

The only through traffic they get is a few bicycles and maybe some people on foot too. The island has a bike/ped bridge in the east, and before the new bridge the island has not been the shortest route anywhere. Now there will be new routes available. Even I will be using it on my trips to the Nallikari beach. Now that I have found it!

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