Should RITBA Install a Median on the Newport Pell Bridge?

Newport City Council will discuss the issue this week

Do you feel unsafe on the Newport Pell Bridge?

Studies undertaken by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA) have demonstrated a center median barrier may prevent crossover collisions.  On Wednesday, Dec. 11, Newport City Council will vote on a resolution urging RITBA to take “immediate action” to install a barrier.  

Jamestown passed a similar resolution on Nov. 18.   

Do you support the installation of a median?  This is what locals had to say on the Newport Patch Facebook page.


Niko Merritt Yes and YES !!! People drive way too fast on that bridge. I go the speed limit and get honked at.

Hilde Crafts i came over in the rain last night and couldnt even see the lines,,,how about making the line readable

Linda Petrone Yes! it is a very dangerous roadway..People drive like crazy on it..how many have to be injured or killed before the median that was approved is put in??????

Sarah O'malley they should install speeding ticket cameras on there- $100 tickets I guarantee traffic will slow down.

Jolene Munch Cardoza I am totally against installing ANYTHING that would further impede traffic on the Pell Bridge - installing a median (if built in the middle) would not only take up TWO existing lanes but would also SIGNIFICANTLY limit traffic flow in both directions. I feel the bridge is very safe, and the speed limit is conservative enough. If anything, the RIBTA should focus on reinforcing support and strengthening the suspension cables and overall structure of the bridge. But building a new median would stick R.I. taxpayers with yet ANOTHER unnecessary bill, as well as a potential toll increase.

Nadine Ryno Most definitely a median should be installed... are we going to wait for more people to die driving on the bridge???

Lucy Moss People are doing everything but paying attention to their driving these days, that is why we need a barrier, in my opinion.

Rich McDermott It's already claustrophobic on that bridge as it is, putting up a median would only make it worse. The bridge has been there for over 40 years, with only a handful of cross-over accidents. If people would just pay damn attention to what they're doing, instead of texting, driving drunk, etc, there wouldn't be any need for these "keep them in their lanes if they can't do it themselves" barriers. We should all have to pay millions of dollars and be inconvenienced by the construction, because two idiot teenagers drove with their heads up their asses and killed two innocent people, instead of paying attention - and not driving during restricted hours, I might add????? There's nothing wrong with that bridge, if people simply paid attention to what the hell they were doing.

Read all the comments here.   

Tell us: Do you support the installation of a median on the Newport Pell Bridge?  Do you feel unsafe when you cross the bridge today?  

mike westman December 10, 2013 at 06:53 AM
Installing a median is a feel-good stopgap. It would create more in-lane collisions and reduce the traffic flow...resulting in more frustrated drivers. As much as I abhor traffic tickets and the intrusion of the state.....an excess speeding fine system would certainly reduce the average speed on the bridge...and cut the severity of the accidents that do happen. With the expensive Easy Pass system in effect.....why not correlate the speeding with the pass holder...and/or flashphoto the plates of the speeders....it would not take long for the average speed to drop at least 10mph. Put up large warnings and go from there...I see (and I am a culprit) people going 70mph+ routinely... I go over at least 10 times a week.
Jack December 10, 2013 at 07:28 AM
NO the bridge is fine its the fools who think they are racing each other to the other side that cause the problem.....if the teens were doing what is required by law they would not have been there and no deaths would have occurred.....this is another overreaction by a group of folks who refuse to look at what causes the crashes, all a medium would do is cause more crashes going the same direction......enforce the speed limit and watch the problem, as small as it is, go away
Larry Gotch December 10, 2013 at 07:43 AM
Yes but no, the bridge is not wide enough. There are plenty of things to complain about regarding traffic, not only on the bridge. Quite honestly, I have not heard about any abundance of accidents on the bridge that would justify a divider. And, if there were an accident, how would the emergency responders get to it with a median divider?
Irene DaPonte December 10, 2013 at 08:25 AM
• RITBA said in its 2010 application that a median barrier was “mandated” by AASHTO industry standards which require a barrier on a bridge with over 20,000 vehicles crossing daily. RITBA has ignored these standards because over 27,000 vehicles a day, including 15,000 daily commuters, use the Pell Bridge. They are all at serious risk
Irene DaPonte December 10, 2013 at 08:26 AM
RITBA had Parsons Brinckerhoff, its engineering firm, complete a study that concluded that the bridge would be safer with a barrier and more stable and structurally sound even in high winds, including hurricane force winds. RITBA paid over $300,000 for the study
Irene DaPonte December 10, 2013 at 08:32 AM
Sadly, RITBA has not made your safety in crossing the bridge a priority. RITBA has had a median barrier in its capital budget and 10 year renewal and replacement plan for years. In fact, it cites the number of cross-over crashes as the need for a median barrier
Irene DaPonte December 10, 2013 at 08:38 AM
RITBA said in its 2010 application, that it had studied 17 different barrier types and had identified the best option for the bridge. It cited studies done in nine other states
amusedinri December 10, 2013 at 08:46 AM
As usual we don't get enough info about a topic. What are the accident statistics for the bridge? If you add a jersey barrier can you have four lanes? It doesn't seem like you could. Going to two lanes will have what effect on traffic flow? More info please,
George Costanza December 10, 2013 at 10:30 AM
"Not in my backyard!" is all I hear on this thread, from selfish pathetic people. There are 3 places where traffic fatalities ALWAYS occur on this island, but are never remedied because of self-interested, selfish people. (1) Cross-overs on the bridge (2) The 90 degree turn at the end of Bellevue (3) the ridiculous telephone poles that abut the road on East and West Main. Those three areas are where a dozen or more people die each year. And no most accidents are not caused by people texting, drunk, or racing. Most accidents are just that "accidents" look up the word in the dictionary, caused by numerous elements from weather, to condition of vehicle, to reactions to the bad driving of others.
William Denton December 10, 2013 at 01:11 PM
The 90 degree turn at the end of Bellevue? the speed limit when I last drove there was 25 MPH and huge sign's warning drivers, some drivers like a challenge and go way to fast. The ridiculous telephone poles that abut the road on East and West Main. That abut the road on East and West Main? I drove midsize trucks on those roads what do you mean "ridiculous telephone poles that abut the road"? Some people don't deserve a Drivers license at all.
William Denton December 10, 2013 at 01:36 PM
I-95 has jersey barriers so why not on The Pell bridge? if it stops one death its worth it, Most drivers today are in way to much of a hurry most don't stop or slow down for pedestrians, The mere lack of traffic law enforcement is killing people, they should make fines higher and include jail time when someone's actions while driving is endangering the lives both people in the car and on the road, one last point about driving most people can't understand when you see a bus pulling away from a pick up or drop off slow down and don't pass, yield to the car or BUS on the right ( Right of way 101 ).
JohnQ Public December 10, 2013 at 02:11 PM
Be prepared for higher tolls probably one lane in each direction related traffic delays. Dropping a single line of jersey barriers is not a long term solution. Cars traveling fast enough will either go thru or over a jersey barrier anyway. You need a double row with impact attenuation in between and that going to take up space......narrowing lanes. HEAVY HEAVY fines for speeding and ticket cams are a better idea. Limit access and when you have an accident on the bridge now you have a real traffic nightmare. Can't reroute traffic over a jersey barrier.
Judy B December 10, 2013 at 08:42 PM
Median barriers on the Pell Bridge are long overdue. Recommendations from national safety experts say median barriers are needed if the average daily traffic count is over 20,000. The latest available data from the Pell Bridge shows the count is over 27,000. The data from RITBA from 2009-2009 shows that “130 vehicle were involved in 72 accidents…18 of these were vehicle crossovers including significant property damage and injuries and due to head on collisions”. Safety on the Pell Bridge cannot be compared with other roads like East Main Road. The bridge has no traffic patrols, no radar, no divider and no shoulders. It has a steep grade which limits visibility at the crest of the bridge. It has challenging weather conditions, like fog, early icing, and high winds which sometimes contribute to debris in the roadway (like canoes, shovels, etc)
Irene DaPonte December 30, 2013 at 12:38 PM
Mr.John Q Public I was stuck in traffic Christmas Eve on the Pell Bridge if there was a barrier in place east bound traffic could have crossed the bridge .You need to research modern barriers yes technology has change since you were born. Also good reading on the subject PELL BRIDGE TIGER GRANT written by RITBA.I lost my friend Kenny Prior on bridge when I saw the helicopter fly over I cried and said a prayer for those involved .


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