2013-10-31 / Letters to the Editor

Barrier needed before someone else is killed

The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority excuses for its delay in installing a center median barrier on the Pell Bridge are contradicted by the official record (“Families of crash victims file lawsuit,” Oct. 24). Facts are stubborn things. Here are a few:

• RITBA said in a 2009 grant application, “The median barrier design is approximately 50 percent complete and final plans and specifications could be completed within three months. If grant funds are provided for the project, construction can be completed by June 2011.”

• Kenny Prior and Kathy Meunier were killed on the bridge on Oct. 21, 2011.

• RITBA said in its 2010 bond offering that if it did not receive a grant for the barrier, it would spend its own bond funds for one. It did not. Instead it built a new office building for its own “comfort and safety,” in the words of its chairman.

• RITBA said in 2009 and 2011 it needed a barrier to protect the 5,000 people who work at the Navy base in Newport. Kathy and Kenny both worked at the Navy base.

• RITBA said in 2010 that a dian barrier was “mandated by an industry standard” that requires a barrier on a bridge with over 20,000 vehicle crossings each day. More 27,000 vehicles a day, including 15,000 daily commuters, use the Pell Bridge.

• RITBA said in 2010 that it had studied 17 different barrier types and had identified the best option for the Pell Bridge.

• RITBA’s engineering firm completed a study that concluded the bridge would be safer, and more stable and structurally sound, even in high winds, including hurricane force winds. RITBA paid $300,000 for that study.

RITBA’s excuses, published in the Jamestown Press on Oct. 24, and provided piecemeal to other media, simply do not hold water. For its chairman to say that RITBA never intended to install a barrier until 2015, even if it obtained a federal grant, is in flat contradiction of what RITBA represented to the federal government in 2009.

The time for excuses is over. We need a barrier now before another person is killed or crippled.

For a full version of this letter, go to the Facebook page, “Citizens United for Bridge Safety.”

H. David Prior
Philadelphia, Penn.

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