Trash truck caused transfer bridge mishap

Workers attempt to reconnect fallen counterweights to the Slip 1 transfer bridge in Vineyard Haven. — Rich Saltzberg

An August 30 cable failure at the Steamship Authority’s Slip 1 transfer bridge in Vineyard Haven was caused by a trash truck, according to SSA general manager Robert Davis.

During a comment period at the end of Tuesday’s Port Council meeting, Davis said “essentially” what happened was a trash truck was boarding, and a protruding portion of the truck caused the problem. 

“It snagged one of the cables as it was going over the transfer bridge, and as the vehicle moved forward,” Davis said, “the tension caused the cable on the counterweights to fail and the counterweights ended up going into the water.”

When asked if the bridge or the ferry moved and caused the truck to snag the cable, Davis said, “Not that we’re aware of.”

SSA director of marine operations Mark Amundsen said, “The truck actually lifted the counterweights up, and the dropping moment is what caused the failure of the ties — where the connection points are on the wire.”

Asked if the new transfer bridges in Woods Hole have cable guards to prevent snags, Amundsen said they didn’t, and that all the SSA transfer bridges were “fairly identical.”

After the cable accident, a crane guided by a diver was needed to fish the counterweights out of Vineyard Haven Harbor. No injuries were reported from the incident. 

SSA spokesman Sean Driscoll later told The Times SSA managers came to understand what had occurred at the transfer bridge following a “thorough investigation involving all sorts of information.” When asked if that included a review of video footage, Driscoll declined to comment. The Times has requested a copy of footage taken at the transfer bridge at the time of the incident. The SSA denied the request, claiming such footage is restricted by law. The Times appealed the SSA’s denial to the state’s supervisor of records. 


  1. So many questions…
    How did no one working that boat notice and say “stop!” when the cable was snagged?
    Are there still only six to eight sets of crew and loading personnel “eyeballs” present at all times when the boats load and unload? 
    Why hasn’t the SSA released the video of this event yet?
    Blaming others is not the best of “looks”, is it?

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