Safety concerns jump with new Big Bridge design

Safety concerns jump with new Big Bridge design

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The low safety rail is so close to the roadway that a teenager sitting on it could "high five" two passing mopeds and a car. — File photo by Steve Myrick

Officials from Edgartown, Oak Bluffs, and Dukes County worry that a low railing, part of the design of the new Big Bridge, creates a serious safety hazard for teenagers who jump off the bridge on hot summer days.

The low railing is designed to prevent cars leaving the road in the event of an accident. But the wide platform on its top also makes a perfect seat for the crowds of kids who gather on the bridge platform, putting kids within inches of passing cars.

“People say it’s a disaster,” said Oak Bluffs selectman Greg Coogan at Tuesday’s meeting. “It is for me; it’s an accident waiting to happen.”

County manager Russell Smith has written two letters to the state highway officials supervising the bridge project, requesting action and suggesting solutions.

Mr. Smith wants a higher temporary railing installed with a narrow top, so that it will be uncomfortable to sit on. He is awaiting a response. “They’ve been, from my view, pretty responsive to our concerns,” Mr. Smith said.

Any remedy would have to be built and funded by the contractor, MIG Corporation of Acton. The contractor is still legally responsible for the bridge.

The problem should be permanently fixed next year. When the other side of the bridge is completed this winter, the roadway will have a three foot buffer on each side.