Stimulus plan includes money for bike/pedestrian lane on Heart of America bridge

Bicyclists and pedestrians will get their lane across the Missouri River earlier than expected thanks to millions in federal stimulus money.

The Missouri Department of Transportation allocated $4.5 million in stimulus money for rehab work on the Heart of America Bridge, which will include the new bike/pedestrian lane.

MoDOT believes it will start construction on the bridge by March 2010 and complete it by the end of the year.

Planners at the Mid-America Regional Council, which coordinate local transportation planning, expected construction to start in 2011. MoDOT had committed to building the bike lane by 2012.

The lane for the first time will give downtown a Missouri River bridge with barriers that separate pedestrians and cyclists from speeding vehicles.

Bicyclists had mounted a vigorous campaign to get MoDOT to put a segregated lane on the new Paseo Bridge, now under construction.

MoDOT resisted those efforts out of concern of putting a bike/ped lane so close to the interstate and the fact that the lane wouldn’t link to a bike/ped friendly area on the north shore of the Missouri River.

However, the new design of the new bridge allows for a bike lane to be added at some point in the future.