Scenes and stories

‘A View from the Bridge,’ and a view of a bridge

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Went to the Guthrie tonight, saw “A View from the Bridge” on the thrust stage, then went out on the Endless Bridge and saw this:


A couple of women near me gasped when they stepped outside and saw the blue glow. The Stone Arch Bridge still rules the riverfront by day, but it barely got any notice — after dark, the new 35W bridge can definitely steal the show.

No, really, after you: A scene from a four-way stop

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

The appropriately named TruckerBiker offers us this tale:

The four-way stop seems to confuse just about every driver: Who got here first? What do they mean, “the car on the right”? Can’t they see me waving them through (even though it’s night and I’m not visible)? Can I just wait here until every one else has gone home?

But last week I encountered a new twist.

Bicycling west on the Midtown Greenway after dark, I approached the stop sign at Holmes Av., just as a small pickup was approaching from the north. The truck stopped on the small upgrade. I stopped, never trusting that my headlight is visible and figuring this was a time to be a law-abiding bicyclist.

The standoff lasted a few seconds.

Then the truck started to creep forward up the grade into the intersection. I got back on the pedals, figuring the truck would quickly clear and I could move on.

But the truck stopped. So I stopped again, unclipping from the pedals, and putting my feet on the ground.

I gave the truck a histrionic “Go!” kind of wave. And then I noticed the window rolling down.

Was this trouble?

I heard a small voice:

“I’m sorry. I’m driving a stick and I’m stalled.”

Mailbag: Just trying to bike across the street can be hazardous

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

Roadguy received this e-mail last evening from alert reader Ken of Columbia Heights:

After reading about all of the recent bicyclist fatalities, I discovered today just how bad it can get. My wife and I were bicycling south on Stinson Parkway in NE Minneapolis when we came upon Hennepin County Road 88.  We have always had trouble crossing this stretch of road to get onto the new Minneapolis Bike/Ped path but today was beyond belief.

When the walk light went white, we proceeded to cross the four-lane 120+ foot road  and got halfway across when three large northbound commercial trucks cut us off while turning right, and forced us to stop in our tracks. To make matters worse, as we started to continue across the road an SUV with a not so nice ungentlemanly person stopped just short of hitting me and then started to yell that he had the right-of-way because the “Don’t Walk” sign was flashing.  After I went through he proceeded to cut my wife off as if she wasn’t there.

I’m sure the Minneapolis PD will say they are too understaffed to work these intersections, but what about the Park Police since this is an entry to a new and major bike path. Are these drivers ignorant of the law or just stupid?

Bike injuries are up, too, according to this Strib story posted this morning. You can probably imagine the comment thread without even looking.

Seen on Hwy. 169: Wide load in a Camry

Monday, September 29th, 2008

Alert reader Andrew has a tale from the road:

I was driving along I-694 eastbound in Maple Grove on Friday and noticed something strange in front of me.  It turned out to be a Toyota Camry with what looked like rain gutters sticking out the passenger-side front window.

As both he and I were in the right lane to exit onto 169 north, the gutters decided to give way and fold backwards, threatening to be pulled out of the car and strewn along the road.  I snapped some pictures as we were both on 169, after he had pulled the gutters back inside his car a bit.  Keep in mind, he was going at freeway/highway speeds with flimsy sheet metal sticking ~4 feet out the side of his window.

You know, side streets were invented for a reason.

A few quick transportation notes from Sherburne County

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008


Roadguy had the day off on Monday to make up for working on Labor Day, so he headed up to the Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge, where no one is talking about drilling for oil and where there’s a pretty cool scenic drive.

The speed limit on the one-way gravel road is 20 miles per hour, meaning that small critters that might normally end up splattered on your windshield are able to…


… hitch a ride on the wiper blade instead. (Several jumped into the Roadguymobile as well, but I don’t think they count as HOV passengers.)

After our tour, since we were in the neighborhood, we swung through…


… where news of the largest single-day increase in the price of oil had yet to cause panic at the pumps:


Maybe that’s because …


… construction of the Northstar commuter rail station is in full swing. When the line opens late next year, Minneapolis better watch out — those grasshoppers will be ready to hop aboard.

The new 35W Bridge: A few opinions and images

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Here’s a v-mail message that Roadguy received yesterday morning, a few hours after the new 35W Bridge opened:

I just want to make a comment: That’s probably the ugliest bridge there is in America now.

Indeed, not everyone’s enamored; a few more comments from today’s paper are here. You can decide for yourself at the Strib’s photo gallery from yesterday’s opening. I do like the shot from the helicopter at dawn — if only I were a real photographer, I too could fly around the city. But being on the ground was all right, and parts of the roof and windshield of the Roadguymobile are visible for a moment in this video from opening day.

Meanwhile, I’m clearing out my hundreds of bridge-construction photos, like this one, which was taken as I passed a trash bin in July:


It looked quite a bit like a purple rolling pin, but I never got around to asking what role it might have played in building the bridge. Also don’t think I ever shared this one of my boot, taken by my colleague Boz:


No, Roadguy did not leave his bootmarks in wet concrete. But someone did, inside one of the segments. There were only the two prints, so maybe the guy said “holy crap!” before getting any farther.

Either way, may the concrete remain in place for a long, long time.