Grade-Separated Trail Crossing

Huntington, West Virginia
Source: Pedestrian and Bicycle Information Center (PBIC)


An at-grade crossing of a busy arterial road exposed users on one of the most heavily used recreational trails in West Virginia to potentially dangerous motor vehicle traffic.


The crossing passes under the bridge.

Residents, visitors and students from Marshall University enjoy the mature shade trees and beautiful views of nearby hills from the flatlands of Ritter Park on the southern edge of Huntington, WV. One of the most popular attractions of the park is a pathway that circles the lower portion of the flatlands along Four Pole Creek. In its application for a Recreational Trails Program grant, the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District stated, "The pathway circling Ritter Park and extending westward to Harveytown Road constitutes 3 mi of arguably the most heavily used walking/jogging trail in West Virginia."

However, the trail crossed Eighth Street, the main traffic artery leading south of Huntington to the City's hilltop residential neighborhood and the Huntington Museum of Art. When the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District was confronted with the issue of pedestrian and vehicle conflicts at this crossing, creative recommendations were needed.


The pedestrian trail bridge utilizes the space beneath the Eighth Street roadway bridge at Four Pole Creek.

Challenges facing this approach included mitigating the potential flooding of Four Pole Creek and providing long approach ramps to keep the angle of descent reasonable for disabled individuals. Brast Thomas, design engineer for this project, supplied a creative alternative to both the flooding problem and access challenge by designing the trail structure to rest on the bridge's arched concrete supports. This allowed the pathway underpass to be at an elevation only inches below the 100-year flood height.

Work began in September 1999 and was financed by a Recreational Trails Program grant totaling $24,360 from the West Virginia Division of Highways with $12,180 from federal grant funds, and $12,180 provided by a local sponsor match. A work crew from the local park district constructed the trail structure.

From an engineering standpoint, no unusual methods or materials were employed, but the economy of design was evidenced in linking the two structures.

To resolve the safety issue presented by trail users crossing Eighth Street at-grade, James McClelland, director/secretary of the Greater Huntington Park and Recreation District and a regular jogger on the pathway, suggested building a bridge to take the pedestrian traffic under Eighth Street, using the space beneath the Eighth Street roadway bridge at Four Pole Creek.


The extensive use of wood made the structure strong, practical, inexpensive and aesthetically pleasing.

Public response to the new bridge has been very positive. The trail itself enjoys strong public support as a grass roots project originally born from the efforts of local trail users and advocates.

The design was severely tested when, just weeks after completion, floodwaters assaulted the new structure. Even though the flood nearly reached one hundred-year levels, washing and clearing a small amount of flood debris was all that was required to return the bridge to service, and interference with stream flow was minimal.

When the people of Huntington come to Ritter Park to see the rose garden, the stone bridge and the artist-designed playground, they also discover a new secret -- the Pedestrian Bridge beneath Eighth Street over Four Pole Creek.


William C. Robinson
Grant Program Analyst
WV Dept. of Transportation
WV Division of Highways
1900 Kanawha Blvd. East
Building 5, Room 863
Charleston, WV 25305-0430
Phone: (304) 558-3165

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