CUMBERLAND — Citing grave concerns over students' avoidance of the Mendon Road Bridge, the State Traffic Commission has agreed to allow a pedestrian study of the small stretch of roadway in front of Cumberland High School at the request of state Rep. Mia Ackerman.
“The pedestrian bridge in front of the high school — although entirely safe to walk across — is not being used by a lot of the high school students because it doesn't look safe to them,” said Ackerman (D-Dist. 45, Cumberland, Lincoln).
“That stretch is not a great place to be ignoring the pedestrian walkway. Masses of students cross Mendon Road each day to get to the athletic field and back. The bridge itself is an eyesore and I have requested that it be repainted,” she added.
“We have spent so much time and energy sprucing up the school and the athletic fields, and the bridge remains a large blemish on what is otherwise a beautiful scene. No one can force the students to use the bridge, but what we can do is work with RIDOT and the State Traffic Commission to review that area and see what we can do to protect our youth and drivers.”
Under the direction of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation, a consultant will conduct vehicle and pedestrian counts, as well as an analysis of travel speeds and sight distance measurements.
A review of the roadway's crash history will also be included in the report.
A September 2012 listing of RIDOT-owned bridges showed that the Mendon Road Bridge is “structurally deficient,” but not unsafe. The department defines structurally deficient as a need to be “monitored, inspected and maintained, repaired or replaced at an appropriate time to maintain its structural integrity. The fact that a bridge is structurally deficient does not imply that it is unsafe. If unsafe conditions are identified during a physical inspection, the structure must be closed.”
Ackerman says she hopes that the study will help determine what safety enhancements can be added to the area.
The study is slated to be presented to the State Traffic Commission at its March 13 meeting.