Early last week my wife and I had the extraordinary opportunity to bicycle across the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in Bucksport, Maine. This handsome cable-stayed structure replaced the former Waldo-Hancock suspension bridge. The new bridge was completed in 2006 and include a bikes/pedestrian lane for non-motorized travel adjacent to the single motor vehicle lane in each direction. The Penobscot Narrows Bridge is also home to the world’s tallest bridge observation deck at 436 feet atop of the West Pylon Tower. The total length of the bridge is 2,136 feet with a main span of 1,161 feet. The height of the towers to their peak is 447 feet. We parked our car in the lot located off State Route 174 near the northwest corner of the bridge. From there we donned our riding gear, unloaded our bicycles, and proceeded to pedal to the intersection of State Route 174 and U.S. 1. When the traffic signal changed, we turned left onto U.S. 1 pedaling west to east across the bridge. Once we completed the bridge crossing, we then biked across the highway and reversed our course from east to west and back to the parking lot. It was a gorgeous mostly sunny day for our endeavor and cooling winds were blowing off Penobscot Bay from the south. Crossing the Penobscot Narrows Bridge by bicycle or on foot is quite easy compared to our earlier rides over the Lion’s Gate Bridge in Vancouver and the Mackinac Bridge in Michigan. For one, the elevation of the terrain on either side of the bridge is high enough where there is no need for a lengthy and/or steep approach to elevate/carry U.S. 1 above the shipping channel. Secondly, the bridge has bike/pedestrian lanes in both directions whereas the Mackinac Bridge has none – the lack of bike lanes or sidewalks on the Mackinac Bridge requires motor vehicle lane closures for special non-motorized events. If you cannot attend one of three events each year, then you are unable to cross the Mackinac Straits in a non-motorized transportation mode. The views from the bridge are spectacular! If you are ever headed to Bangor, Bar Harbor/Acadia, Camden, Belfast, or Rockport, consider a side trip to Bucksport and its incredible Penobscot Narrows Bridge. While there, be sure to check out the observation deck atop the west tower – it is accessed via the entrance through Fort Knox State Park below the bridge and requires an entry fee and ticket for the observation deck. It us truly an unique experience that you will never forget!
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