Bridge Out, Shuttle In

posted 3/30/17 -- When ODOT closed the Henderson Bridge for reconstruction, LCCAA started a shuttle so low-income pedestrians who walked to work across the bridge could keep their jobs.

The sidewalk on the bridge over the Black River was closed leaving pedestrians stranded. The bridge joins two low-income neighborhoods and is a regular path for those walking to work. When pedestrians put themselves at risk by walking in the traffic lane during construction, tickets and steep fines were called for.

Not seeing any alternative, ODOT asked for increased police presence on both ends of the Henderson Bridge. According to media reports, violators faced $200-per-offense fines and potential jail time. LCCAA stepped up to offer a vehicle for shuttle services.

“These people have no choice but to walk in order to remain employed,” President and CEO Jackie Boehnlein said, explaining why LCCAA took action. “A $200 ticket to a low-income household will destabilize their ability to meet basic needs.”

For approximately $400 in private funding, an old LCCAA Head Start vehicle was put to use shuttling low-income workers from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week until the sidewalk reopened. Between May 6 and Nov. 6, the shuttle provided nearly 3,000 rides.

Boehnlein praised ODOT’s Third District for a speedy and fair solution to the problem. The closest pedestrian route was the Erie Street bridge which would have added at least two miles and forty minutes to a walker’s commute, she added.