myths about the viaduct FOLLOWED BY THE FACTS

CONDITION MYTH

The Viaduct has been described as "falling down" and "crumbling."  In fact, the City sent Fire Trucks atop the Viaduct to fight a blaze in November.  The cement that is falling off is surface material only - a kind of "rash" than can be removed, and sealed.

 The "poor" rated deck - the street surface of the Viaduct - is full of potholes. Lets fill them. The Superstructure is rated "satisfactory" for 22 ton trucks, so, for a bunch of folks walking and riding bikes, the Viaduct is just fine. The Substructure is "poor" because the water is backing up causing the concrete to "spall off" the face of the upright piers. However, all that is needed is to fix the storm drains, stop the deterioration, removed the loose concrete and seal the surface. Done!

The "poor" rated deck - the street surface of the Viaduct - is full of potholes. Lets fill them. The Superstructure is rated "satisfactory" for 22 ton trucks, so, for a bunch of folks walking and riding bikes, the Viaduct is just fine. The Substructure is "poor" because the water is backing up causing the concrete to "spall off" the face of the upright piers. However, all that is needed is to fix the storm drains, stop the deterioration, removed the loose concrete and seal the surface. Done!

 For non-vehicular use, the Viaduct is "structurally sound" and "functionally excellent."

For non-vehicular use, the Viaduct is "structurally sound" and "functionally excellent."

 Bridges in much worse condition than the McBride Viaduct, like this one in Illinois, are regularly repaired.

Bridges in much worse condition than the McBride Viaduct, like this one in Illinois, are regularly repaired.

PRICE & FUNDING MYTHS

City Hall says is $6 - $10 million to fix the Viaduct for non-vehicular use.

  FACT -   It will cost $1.35 to repair the bridge and keep it in service and provide benefits to that area on multiple levels rather than harming that area on multiple levels.  In fact, a PennDOT-approved engineer estimated that total stabilization costs will be under $3 million. By eliminating cosmetic repairs, that figure has dropped to $1.35. Since 2013, the total demolition price tag was raised from $1.2 million to $2.3 million and now exceeds $3 million. These increases were made without any explanation or public hearing. According to PennDOT, other communities HAVE reallocated demolition funds to stabilize structures. Some of the funds earmarked for demolition can be used to fix the Viaduct - so - the good news is that at least $1.26 million of the demo funds can be used to begin the bridge repairs. A mistaken underlying assumption by many normal folks is the belief that it will cost a lot to maintain the Viaduct. As Adam J. Trott has explained, this is a false narrative. Once the bridge is "re-skinned," drains cleared, pot holes filled, stairs repaired and lights replaced - the actual maintenance costs will include clearing the surface of snow, keeping drains clear and lights on. These costs aren't overwhelming, and, once a cost-benefit analysis is done, it will be evident that it makes sense to fix the bridge for non-vehicular use. Regarding the $3 million needed: first, we can transfer at least $1.2 million from the demo fund towards fixing the bridge over the next few years. In fact, we can use the $1.2 million, as well as in-kind support to apply for state and federal transportation, walkablity and place-making grants over the next few years to cover the balance needed. Keep it mind that $180m was spent building the Rt.290 Bayfront "Connector" Highway that cut off many neighborhood streets. Its wrong to inflict further damage on the Eastside of the City.

FACT - It will cost $1.35 to repair the bridge and keep it in service and provide benefits to that area on multiple levels rather than harming that area on multiple levels. In fact, a PennDOT-approved engineer estimated that total stabilization costs will be under $3 million. By eliminating cosmetic repairs, that figure has dropped to $1.35. Since 2013, the total demolition price tag was raised from $1.2 million to $2.3 million and now exceeds $3 million. These increases were made without any explanation or public hearing. According to PennDOT, other communities HAVE reallocated demolition funds to stabilize structures. Some of the funds earmarked for demolition can be used to fix the Viaduct - so - the good news is that at least $1.26 million of the demo funds can be used to begin the bridge repairs. A mistaken underlying assumption by many normal folks is the belief that it will cost a lot to maintain the Viaduct. As Adam J. Trott has explained, this is a false narrative. Once the bridge is "re-skinned," drains cleared, pot holes filled, stairs repaired and lights replaced - the actual maintenance costs will include clearing the surface of snow, keeping drains clear and lights on. These costs aren't overwhelming, and, once a cost-benefit analysis is done, it will be evident that it makes sense to fix the bridge for non-vehicular use. Regarding the $3 million needed: first, we can transfer at least $1.2 million from the demo fund towards fixing the bridge over the next few years. In fact, we can use the $1.2 million, as well as in-kind support to apply for state and federal transportation, walkablity and place-making grants over the next few years to cover the balance needed. Keep it mind that $180m was spent building the Rt.290 Bayfront "Connector" Highway that cut off many neighborhood streets. Its wrong to inflict further damage on the Eastside of the City.

 

SAFETY MYTH

In their 2013 recommendation to demolish the Viaduct, L.R. Kimball noted that the intersection at E.12th and Rt.290 was very dangerous and promised construction of a sidewalk on the south-side of E.12th to allow people walking and biking to head east safely (away from the 5 million annual vehicles speeding through the intersection).

  FACT - No sidewalk is going to be constructed on the south-side of E. 12th.  So, after demolition of the Viaduct, the 70,000 annual Viaduct users, including schoolchildren, will be forced to navigate the dangerous highway intersection and roadway (below). This route is absolutely NOT a "safe route to school" because, in addition to the intersection, the route includes a 2,000' long narrow path just inches from speeding highway traffic throwing fumes, water and snow into the faces of all on the path.

FACT - No sidewalk is going to be constructed on the south-side of E. 12th. So, after demolition of the Viaduct, the 70,000 annual Viaduct users, including schoolchildren, will be forced to navigate the dangerous highway intersection and roadway (below). This route is absolutely NOT a "safe route to school" because, in addition to the intersection, the route includes a 2,000' long narrow path just inches from speeding highway traffic throwing fumes, water and snow into the faces of all on the path.

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NO-USE MYTH

The L.R.Kimball study indicated that few people walked or biked over the Viaduct. Several Erie Facebook posts have characterized Viaduct users as "thugs" and "criminals."

  FACT - Every day 200 trips are made over the Viaduct by folks walking, pushing strollers or riding bikes ( 70,000 a year) to get to school, work, shopping, worship, recreation, family and friends.

FACT - Every day 200 trips are made over the Viaduct by folks walking, pushing strollers or riding bikes ( 70,000 a year) to get to school, work, shopping, worship, recreation, family and friends.

 

MYTH OF REDUNDANCY

City Hall says that the path along the Rt. 290 Bayfront Connector highway and East. 12th Street is equivalent to the Viaduct route making the Viaduct unnecessary and "redundant."  

  FACT - The Viaduct was falsely labeled "redundant" by five L. R. Kimball traffic engineers untrained in urban design and the alternative modalities of walking and biking. These engineers claimed the Viaduct was "redundant" based only on vehicular travel times and their "redundancy" characterization of the McBride Viaduct, a vibrantly functioning $15M+ asset, is just plain wrong.  L. R. Kimball's engineers dismissed the pedestrian and bicycle component without giving it a reasonable due diligence. The Bayfront "Connector" Rt. 290 highway and E. 12th Street path far narrower, more dangerous, more polluted and much more noisy route than the Viaduct. The other issue that rebuts the "redundancy" tag is the urban design component.  A satellite view of the area shows that the Viaduct directly connects to the existing grid in a way the Rt. 290 Bayfront Connector Highway bridge cannot.  This critical alignment creates a sense of "place" for the neighborhood that the Rt. 290  bridge can never attain.  All the latest urban design studies across the country recognize the importance of "placemaking" in today's urban planning decisions.  Removing the Viaduct is in direct conflict with this recognition, and would set back the neighborhood structure of that part of Erie for decades. Please WALK BOTH routes before you form an opinion.

FACT - The Viaduct was falsely labeled "redundant" by five L. R. Kimball traffic engineers untrained in urban design and the alternative modalities of walking and biking. These engineers claimed the Viaduct was "redundant" based only on vehicular travel times and their "redundancy" characterization of the McBride Viaduct, a vibrantly functioning $15M+ asset, is just plain wrong. L. R. Kimball's engineers dismissed the pedestrian and bicycle component without giving it a reasonable due diligence. The Bayfront "Connector" Rt. 290 highway and E. 12th Street path far narrower, more dangerous, more polluted and much more noisy route than the Viaduct. The other issue that rebuts the "redundancy" tag is the urban design component.  A satellite view of the area shows that the Viaduct directly connects to the existing grid in a way the Rt. 290 Bayfront Connector Highway bridge cannot.  This critical alignment creates a sense of "place" for the neighborhood that the Rt. 290  bridge can never attain.  All the latest urban design studies across the country recognize the importance of "placemaking" in today's urban planning decisions.  Removing the Viaduct is in direct conflict with this recognition, and would set back the neighborhood structure of that part of Erie for decades. Please WALK BOTH routes before you form an opinion.

 

THERE IS NO MONEY MYTH

City Hall says that we don't have and can't get the money to fix or maintain the Viaduct. 

  FACT - Once the city becomes a partner in preservation, additional funding sources become available.      A mistaken underlying assumption by many folks is that it will cost a lot to maintain the Viaduct. As Adam J. Trott has explained, this is a false narrative. Once the bridge is "re-skinned," drains cleared, pot holes filled, stairs repaired and lights replaced - the actual maintenance costs will include clearing the surface of snow, keeping drains clear and lights on. These costs aren't overwhelming, and, once a cost-benefit analysis is done, it will be evident that it makes sense to fix the bridge for non-vehicular use. Regarding the $3 million needed: first, we can transfer at least $1.2 million from the demo fund towards fixing the bridge over the next few years. In fact, we can use the $1.2 million, as well as in-kind support as "matches" to apply for state and federal transportation, walkablity and place-making grants over the next few years to cover the balance needed. Below is a draft list of possible grants that ErieCPR, Erie County and incoming Mayor Joe Schember's new grant-writer can jointly pursue regarding the Viaduct and it's impact on  kid's safety, public heath, urban design, place-making, infrastructure repair, poverty abatement and economic development.  - Safe Routes to School Partnership  - Safe Kids Worldwide Grants  - Youth Service America Grants  - American Legion Child Welfare Foundation Grants  - World Bank Poverty Reduction Fund  - Prevention and Public Health Funding from Partners in Information  - The Kresge Foundation Health Program  - Federal Prevention and Public Health Fund   - DOT's Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Grants  - Federal Reconnecting America Federal Grants  - US Senator Bob Casey's FAST Act Federal Transportation Bill.  - Community Heart and Soul Placemaking Grants - www.orton.org  - National Creative Placemaking Fund at ArtPlace America  - National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" Creative Placemaking Grants (EfficientGov)  - Project for Public Spaces Placemaking Grants  - LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Economic Development & Creative Placemaking  - Realtor Action Center Placemaking Guide  - The Kresge Foundation Place-Based Initiatives  - Thoma Foundation Grants to Connect People  - Sharing Hope Community Project at Grant Services  - Community Funding Grants at the Joyce Foundation

FACT - Once the city becomes a partner in preservation, additional funding sources become available.   A mistaken underlying assumption by many folks is that it will cost a lot to maintain the Viaduct. As Adam J. Trott has explained, this is a false narrative. Once the bridge is "re-skinned," drains cleared, pot holes filled, stairs repaired and lights replaced - the actual maintenance costs will include clearing the surface of snow, keeping drains clear and lights on. These costs aren't overwhelming, and, once a cost-benefit analysis is done, it will be evident that it makes sense to fix the bridge for non-vehicular use. Regarding the $3 million needed: first, we can transfer at least $1.2 million from the demo fund towards fixing the bridge over the next few years. In fact, we can use the $1.2 million, as well as in-kind support as "matches" to apply for state and federal transportation, walkablity and place-making grants over the next few years to cover the balance needed. Below is a draft list of possible grants that ErieCPR, Erie County and incoming Mayor Joe Schember's new grant-writer can jointly pursue regarding the Viaduct and it's impact on  kid's safety, public heath, urban design, place-making, infrastructure repair, poverty abatement and economic development.

- Safe Routes to School Partnership

- Safe Kids Worldwide Grants

- Youth Service America Grants

- American Legion Child Welfare Foundation Grants

- World Bank Poverty Reduction Fund

- Prevention and Public Health Funding from Partners in Information

- The Kresge Foundation Health Program

- Federal Prevention and Public Health Fund 

- DOT's Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Grants

- Federal Reconnecting America Federal Grants

- US Senator Bob Casey's FAST Act Federal Transportation Bill.

- Community Heart and Soul Placemaking Grants - www.orton.org

- National Creative Placemaking Fund at ArtPlace America

- National Endowment for the Arts "Our Town" Creative Placemaking Grants (EfficientGov)

- Project for Public Spaces Placemaking Grants

- LISC (Local Initiatives Support Corporation) Economic Development & Creative Placemaking

- Realtor Action Center Placemaking Guide

- The Kresge Foundation Place-Based Initiatives

- Thoma Foundation Grants to Connect People

- Sharing Hope Community Project at Grant Services

- Community Funding Grants at the Joyce Foundation

 

MAINTENANCE MYTH

City Hall says they can't afford to maintain the Viaduct.   

 Since 2005, the City has spent $17,650 to maintain the Viaduct while $109,300 have been spent studying it.

Since 2005, the City has spent $17,650 to maintain the Viaduct while $109,300 have been spent studying it.

  FACT - The City can partner with a non-profit to maintain the Viaduct.  After stabilization, the costs to maintain the Viaduct involve lighting, snow-plowing and cleaning the gutters and Erie CPR is standing by to formulate a public-private partnership to maintain the Viaduct modeled on LEAF at Frontier Park.

FACT - The City can partner with a non-profit to maintain the Viaduct. After stabilization, the costs to maintain the Viaduct involve lighting, snow-plowing and cleaning the gutters and Erie CPR is standing by to formulate a public-private partnership to maintain the Viaduct modeled on LEAF at Frontier Park.

 

INSURANCE MYTH

City Hall says they can’t afford to insure the Viaduct.

  FACT - City insiders explained that insurance premiums won’t be lowered if the Viaduct is torn down or increased if it stays.

FACT - City insiders explained that insurance premiums won’t be lowered if the Viaduct is torn down or increased if it stays.

 

INDUSTRY IS UGLY MYTH

City Hall says the views from the Viaduct aren't worth saving.

  FACT - Communities all over the world, including those shown here at Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA are embracing their gritty, industrial heritages and adaptively reusing the structures to create local pride, create jobs and foster economic development.

FACT - Communities all over the world, including those shown here at Steel Stacks in Bethlehem, PA are embracing their gritty, industrial heritages and adaptively reusing the structures to create local pride, create jobs and foster economic development.

 

ITS TOO LATE MYTH

City Hall claims that it is too late to stop the demolition.

  FACT - Until demolition begins, we can still save the bridge. 

FACT - Until demolition begins, we can still save the bridge. 

 

OBEDIENCE MYTH

City Hall says that unless they follow recommendation of the flawed L.R.Kimball study and demolish the Viaduct, that they'll have to pay the $85,000 study bill. 

  FACT - According to PennDOT, no matter what the city decides to do with the Viaduct, the state pays for the study and besides it is already PAID IN FULL.

FACT - According to PennDOT, no matter what the city decides to do with the Viaduct, the state pays for the study and besides it is already PAID IN FULL.