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 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.
Road crews have begun installing hundreds of dividers down the center of the Pell Bridge in Newport. About five hundred three-foot yellow posts will stretch the two mile span.
Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority Director David Darlington said the dividers will not keep people from crossing into oncoming traffic, but should help keep those accidents from occurring in the first place.
The Newport City Council approved a resolution urging the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority to install a center barrier. The move by the Council follows a fatal head-on collision that took place on the Pell Bridge on Christmas Eve.
In the incident, police say a 75-year-old man swerved into oncoming traffic. He later died of his injuries.
Newport joins Middletown and Jamestown in approving the resolution. All of Newport County has been asked to do the same.