2012-08-30 / News

Median safety divider needed on bridge

The question of traffic safety on the Pell Newport Bridge was raised recently at a monthly meeting of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority.

The concern was prompted following a traffic accident that resulted in two deaths. The head-on collision between two vehicles occurred when one of the vehicles crossed the center line.

At present there is no physical divider between the opposing lanes on the four-lane bridge deck.

Placing a median between the center lanes on the bridge – such as the newer style Jersey barriers – would be the ideal solution to the problem. The physical barrier would prevent vehicles from crossing over the center line. However, space limitations due to the narrow bridge lanes may prohibit that alternative.

Another possible solution that seems more suitable to the task would be to place a raised rubber median with upright reflector paddles between the center lanes on the bridge. RITBA has already used these lane dividers to separate the open-road tolling lanes from the tollbooths. Although it would not create a physical barrier, it would help to alert the driver of the vehicle crossing the center line and might help to allay future accidents.

— Jeff McDonough

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