Is a footbridge at 32nd Street needed? Yes, I believe it is.
I commute 3.5 miles to work via bicycle every day and cross 32nd Street at East Second Avenue during rush hour. It is the most dangerous part of my commute.
There is not enough space here to describe all of the near misses I have had or witnessed. Drivers speed to make the light at U.S. 550 or attempt to get around the backed up traffic by using the oncoming lane or sidewalk.
There is too much going on around that intersection for drivers to notice pedestrians or cyclists attempting to cross 32nd.
School kids rarely use that crossing, likely because their parents understand the risk.
An upgraded at-grade crossing would simply embolden pedestrians and cyclists, possibly with tragic results.
With the tens of millions spent on an incredible asset like the river trail, it makes no sense to have the only break in the trail at the second-busiest street in town.
$4.2 million is indeed a lot of money so I would offer a compromise – extend the river trail on the east side of East Second Avenue to the Rec Center using the unnecessary parking lane and construct a single ped bridge across 32nd. Design for a potential future connection to that structure from the east side of the river and evaluate whether that is necessary in the coming years.
The reduced scope of that project would hopefully cut the cost in half.