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Residents to Make Push for Permanent Pell Bridge Barrier

Petition circulating, group plans to attend first Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority meeting to demand permanent median barriers.

A group of residents concerned about safety on the Claiborne Pell Bridge are rallying together.

Citizens United for Bridge Safety has been circulating a petition and is planning to attend the Rhode Island Bridge and Turnpike Authority's first board meeting of the year on Wednesday, March 19.

The movement stems from years of incidents on the bridge involving head-on collisions because of the lack of a barrier, most recently in December, when a 25-year-old suffered severe injuries when his car was struck by a man driving a truck who crossed three lanes of traffic. The truck driver died.

The 25-year-old victim, Will Oberg, "feels confident that he would have been protected by a median barrier," the petition states.

"More than 27,OOO vehicles cross Pell Bridge every day; industry standards mandate that a median barrier be in place when more than 20,000 vehicles use a roadway. The accident history on the bridge is compelling evidence of clear and present danger: between 1998 and 2011, there were 49 head-on crashes on the bridge, including the one that took the lives of Kathy Meunier and Kenny Prior. Simply put, RITBA has failed to fulfill its duty to protect the public from a serious road hazard.The time for delays and excuses is over."

The group believes that the temporary median installed by the turnpike authority earlier this year is a good measure, but does not stop cars from crossing traffic and doesn't provide long-term safety, which a permanent median would, they say.

On its Facebook page, CUBS is urging concerned residents to attend the RIBTA meeting, which will be held at the Jamestown Library, 26 North Road, Jamestown.

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