2016-05-26 / Front Page

Median Prevented Crossover Collision in Bridge Accident

By Olga Enger

The new medians on the Newport Pell Bridge held up to their promise Saturday, after a five-car accident was “most definitely” contained by the barrier, according to Rhode Island state police.

The accident, which occurred shortly after 11:30 in the morning, resulted in minor injuries and brought Memorial Day traffic entering Newport to a grinding halt for several hours. However, the median prevented a crossover collision, which may have saved lives, according to police. 

The accident involved fives vehicles, including a RIPTA bus.

“I’m 100 percent certain the bus would had gone into the other lanes, causing a larger collision” said Rhode Island State Police Corporal Charles LeValley. “Instead, the bus hit the median, which kept him from hitting other cars. It’s a bit of a pain because it makes it difficult to get to the accident, but without a doubt it would have been much, much worse.” 

Before the $6 million median project, there were 17 crossover collisions in the past five years, according to a report commissioned by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority (RITBA). Out of the 17 crossover collisions, three of the accidents had fatalities. The twelve-week construction project was completed in April 2015.

The accident occurred after the bus changed from the left to the right lane and was attempting to return back to the left lane, said police. As the bus driver began to move back to the left lane, an accident occurred ahead.

“Traffic stopped and the bus driver rear-ended the cars ahead of him, which caused a chain reaction and pushed the bus back into the median,” said LeValley.

Traffic came to a complete standstill for hours.

“It was a nightmare. We were even stuck in traffic. An officer had to leave his car and run up to the accident. But, that's just the way it is. The median most definitely saves lives.” Lavalley said.

The accident is still under investigation by police. 

Return to top