2014-01-09 / Editorial

Time for traffic median on the Newport Pell Bridge

This week the Jamestown Press reports that the third person in 27 months has died as the result of a traffic accident on the Newport Pell Bridge in which motorists have crossed the center line.

The Press has previously urged the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority to proceed with installing a traffic median on the Pell Bridge. Now that RITBA recently received an engineering report stating that the bridge can bear the additional weight from such a median, it’s time to move forward with installing the median.

The Pell Bridge is a dangerous place. There are four lanes of traffic – two lanes heading east and another two lanes in the opposing direction. Vehicles are usually cruising at 50 to 60 mph, unless there is bridge maintenance underway. When you consider the typical driver distractions, plus the added major distraction of drivers rubbernecking the scenic Narragansett Bay views, you have a frightening recipe for traffic accidents.

Head-on collisions are the worst. It would be interesting to find out how many head-on collisions have occurred on the bridge since it opened in 1969. How many of those accidents have resulted in fatalities?

The Pell Bridge is a busy thoroughfare. Thousands of vehicles cross the bridge daily. It is a vital link between Jamestown and Newport. We should make the bridge as safe as possible.

It’s time for RITBA to proceed without hesitation and install a new traffic median on the bridge. Let’s get the project done before another life is lost.

— Jeff McDonough

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