Construction is slated to begin this month on a solid barrier dividing lanes on the Pell Bridge in Newport. The public has called for a median for years.
Calls for a median grew louder after a 75 year-old man crossed into oncoming traffic on the bridge on Christmas Eve of 2013, and died of his injuries. The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority installed reflective posts along the center of the bridge a year ago. But they cannot stop cars from crossing into oncoming traffic.
The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority voted unanimously Wednesday to install a median barrier along the bridge.
There is currently a line of yellow dividers down the center of the bridge, acting as a kind of visual barrier to keep drivers in their lanes. Those dividers will be replaced with a median barrier to prevent accidents caused by drivers crossing over into on-coming traffic.
Calls for a barrier on the Pell Bridge grew louder back in January after a deadly head-on collision on Christmas Eve.
The head of the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority is warning lawmakers that if they extend a toll on the Sakonnet River Bridge, then it may need to return the bridge to the state.
In a letter to lawmakers authority chairman David Darlington said pushing the expiration of the Sakonnet’s 10-cent toll from April 1st to July 1st may force the authority to consider returning the Sakonnet and Jamestown bridges to the state and raise tolls on the Newport Pell Bridge.
The House Finance Committee will take up legislation Tuesday centered on funding bridge repair and keeping tolls off the Sakonnet River Bridge. Lawmakers also want to hang on to the bridge's current ten-cent toll for a few more months.
The families of two people who died in a head-on crash on the Pell Bridge will file a wrongful death suit today against the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority and other state entities. The filing of the lawsuit comes on the second anniversary of the fatal crash.
On October 21, 2011 Kenny Prior and Kathy Meunier were driving across the Claiborne Pell Bridge when their vehicle was hit head-one by a car that crossed the median. Both died as a result of their injuries.