GROTON, Conn. (WTNH) — People who used to walk or bike over the Gold Star Bridge between Groton and New London now have a new option to get over the Thames River.

A fiery crash on the Gold Star Bridge took the life of the oil tanker driver, and all that burning oil damaged the edge of the bridge, right where the path for bikers and pedestrians is. So, for more than three weeks, that path has officially been closed. That was bad news for people who bike to work, like Andrew Reinhardt.

“Not a huge fan of sitting in car traffic and commuting,” Reinhardt said. “The bike commute is much slower, much more relaxed, and you’re much more present for the whole thing.”

As of this morning, bikers and walkers can now take a free shuttle bus. The first passenger is touring the whole East Coast on her bike.

“I knew that the bike path on the bridge was not working, so I googled and found out about this bus, and then just hopped on it,” said Ishfaqun Nisa of Florida.

The state Department of Transportation called up Dattco to run the shuttle.

“The timing worked out. We had some campus shuttles ending, so we had some buses becoming available, and a driver becoming available for different contracts,” Dattco Vice President Dennis Lyons said. “So, we were able to put it together relatively quickly for them to spin it up this morning.”

The bus runs from New London to Groton and back on a 30-minute loop. It stops where the path to the bridge begins: Riverview Avenue on the Groton side, Bailey Circle on the New London side. Some, like Stonington resident Kevin Burke, have been riding over the bridge despite the closure.

“I have to get to work in Montville, I live in Stonington, and this is my chosen mode of transportation,” said Kevin Burke, astride his bike. “It is passable. They do have a fence preventing someone from falling over.”

He also found today that the DOT just put up wooden barricades blocking the path. That makes the free shuttle a lot more attractive.

“I’m glad the shuttle service is here, and hopefully, the DOT can get the bridge squared away, and we can get back to business as normal,” Reinhardt said.

The shuttle bus will run seven days a week, from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., until they get the bridge fixed.