Author Topic: Crossing the Vernita Bridge on the Columbia River  (Read 1951 times)

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Offline HikeBikeCook

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Crossing the Vernita Bridge on the Columbia River
« on: March 01, 2021, 08:42:44 am »
I have been mapping alternate routes across the Palouse area of Eastern Washington and one route people seem to use on CGOAB is Route 24 from Othello to Yakima which involves crossing the Vernita Bridge. Highway data shows AADT at 5,000 vehicles a day. The span is 1,000 feet long with no shoulder. HAs anyone ridden it? Most journals say the traffic is heaviest in the early morning hours before 8:00 am. After that truck traffic will increase.

One video journal I saw of a group crossing the Vantage Bridge showed them putting out road flares at the start of the bridge to warn drivers. Not sure if that is a good idea or would just piss people off. We are traveling east to west so we will hit there in the middle of the heat at the end of July. :( so morning travel is ideal.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline jamawani

Re: Crossing the Vernita Bridge on the Columbia River
« Reply #1 on: March 01, 2021, 09:21:48 am »
I have ridden Hwy 24 and toured eastern Washington many times.
Hwy 24 between the Vernita bridge and Othello is pretty nasty.
No shoulder, no services, moderate+ traffic that is moving fast.

https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/?o=1mr&page_id=464711&v=DM

There is a rest area with water (iffy quality?) at the bridge.
There's a small cafe at the Hwy 241 jct. that may not have survived 2020.

The birdge itself is so-so. No shoulder, fairly heavy traffic, but they do slow down.
Since westbound (south) traffic has to turn onto the bridge, it will be slower.
Waiting for a visible gap is way smarter than flares.

And make no mistake about it - July will be hot.

https://www.wsdot.wa.gov/mapsdata/tools/trafficplanningtrends.htm

Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Crossing the Vernita Bridge on the Columbia River
« Reply #2 on: March 01, 2021, 10:34:44 am »
Thanks Jamawani -

The Beverly Bridge will be open this fall from the looks of it, but it seems to be a bridge to nowhere from all the trail journals that I have read. The Palouse to Cascades trail on both sides of the river in that area is either rough ballast, deep sand, swampy, rocky, filled with tumble weed, or all of the above at the same time. Crossing the Palouse lets us get to bike trails in Ellensburg, avoids some major climbs found on the TransAM or Northern Tier, saves about 400 miles over the TransAM, and puts us into Seattle over the Portland area.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline jamawani

Re: Crossing the Vernita Bridge on the Columbia River
« Reply #3 on: March 01, 2021, 11:19:55 am »
How much work are you willing to do?

The Vantage Highway from Vantage to Ellensburg has light traffic.
But you have to do it early in the morning to avoid brutal headwinds.
(All the wind turbines on the ridgeines serve as important clues.)
Plus you avoid Hwy 24 and the Vernita Bridge.

A number of ways to do it:

1. Suck it up and ride the dangerous I-90 bridge. (Bad idea)
But it is doable westbound because of a significant downgrade.
There is a shoulder on the west side once you hit the causeway.

2. Make a reservation at the motel/campground in Vantage -
Then request a shuttle - they've been known to do this.
Of course, that means having a fixed date late in the trip.

* If there are concerts at the Gorge Ampitheater - the whole area is packed.
Right now there are multi-day events scheduled for mid and late Juy.

3. Radical. Take the spectacular Old Vantage Hwy down Frenchman Coulee.
Then chill out at the boat ramp at the river and hitchhike across.

** I've done this many times over the past 30 years.
Granted I was solo - also, it takes a chunk of time and is not guaranteed.
Or you could see if you could hire a boat shuttle.
Frenchman Coulee is worth it.

4. Cross on the Beverly Bridge then take Wanapum Rd north to Vantage.
Except that the completion date is Sept. 2021 - and will likely be later.

<<<>>>

The Palouse is magical - especially in late spring when it is green - -
https://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/page/pic/?o=1mr&pic_id=2666949&size=large
It will be brown in late summer - still very nice with quiet back roads.

Pic - Frenchman Coulee




Offline HikeBikeCook

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Re: Crossing the Vernita Bridge on the Columbia River
« Reply #4 on: March 01, 2021, 11:39:20 am »
Jamawan -

Your journal was one of the ones I read that got me looking at the Vernita Bridge. Crossing the Beverly Bridge and riding up to Vantage was another route I had been exploring. We won't be riding until 2020 at the earliest so hopefully the bridge work will be complete. Complete was moved from June 2021 to Fall of 2021 but appears to be proceeding.
Surly Disc Trucker, Lightspeed Classic, Scott Scale, Klein Mantra Comp. First touring bike Peugeot U08 - 1966

Offline LindLarsh

Re: Crossing the Vernita Bridge on the Columbia River
« Reply #5 on: June 21, 2022, 09:56:19 am »
It requires a lot of preparation for such a dangerous route. If you are thinking of crossing it in winter or autumn, you should be extra diligent. Even the best inflatable kayaks don't guarantee success in those times. The only season when you could give it a real go is in the summer. I presume that you have your details already established since it looks like you are an experienced swimmer. I wish you luck on your trip!
« Last Edit: June 22, 2022, 02:26:55 am by LindLarsh »