2015-04-09 / Opinion

Not Too Much to Ask


We should have seen this coming. The Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA), to its credit, provided plenty of warning that traffic going both ways on the Newport Pell Bridge would be impeded to one degree or another when construction of the bridge’s new concrete median barrier began on March 16.

There were stories about the project in this and other newspapers, as well as on radio, television and online. There were large flashing signs at both ends of the span advising motorists to “expect delays,” especially during the higher-volume commuter hours of the day.

At first, things did not seem too bad as they pinched vehicles down to one lane in both directions on the Newport end. This week, of course, bridge traffic was squeezed down further to one lane both coming and going across the entire span.

And, naturally, the lines of backed-up traffic grew longer. And longer.

We’ve heard the griping and we hope the growling does not grow any louder.

This bridge work—which is only supposed to last until mid-May— is, after all, in the best interests of everyone who uses the bridge. Aren’t one double fatality and another head-on crash with serious injuries enough reasons for everyone to put up with a little inconvenience?

We think they are very good reasons.

We’ve also heard some grumbling that when the work is finished the lanes will be too narrow.

We can all do without that sort of talk as well.

The Golden Gate Bridge in California that connects San Francisco to Sausalito is one of the most famous bridges in the world. People traveling to that area can’t wait to see it and drive over it—in spite of the fact that its travel lanes are a mere nine feet wide.

The Pell Bridge, when all of this is said and done, will have travel lanes of 11 feet, six inches (just six inches narrower than before).

Have to use the bridge at rush hour? Either change your plans or plan to relax in the next few weeks. This new median is designed to save lives. That’s well worth the inconvenience.

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