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DOT to add safety fence at site of I-440 bridge death

Posted December 3, 2009

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— The state Department of Transportation said Thursday it will add a second security fence at a Raleigh bridge where a man fell to his death last week.

Raleigh police said Carroll Lee Eames Jr., 33, of Willow Spring, jumped over a barrier between the eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 440 near Glenwood Avenue and Six Forks Road to avoid oncoming traffic.

DOT will build safety fence at I-440 bridge DOT will build safety fence at I-440 bridge

Eames, who had been trying to help others following two wrecks, apparently did not realize there was a gap between the two bridges that opens below to Crabtree Creek, police said. He fell 70 feet to the creek and died.

Todd Fletcher, 26, died in a similar fall at the same bridge in October 2005.

DOT Secretary Gene Conti said the department is still investigating the fall and conducting a study of bridge crossings across the state but will proceed with the security fence out of an abundance of caution.

It is expected to cost up to $50,000 and to be installed by Feb. 1.

“We regret that this terrible accident occurred, and we’ll do whatever we can to prevent another such tragedy, here or anywhere else across the state,” Conti said Thursday.

State highway administrator Terry Gibson has ordered a study of bridges across the state to determine whether safety hazards exist. The staff also is looking at policies in other states.

“Preliminary data indicated that this is not a statewide problem,” Gibson said. “However, due to the fact that we have experienced two pedestrian fatalities at this structure since 2005, it would be prudent to go ahead and install protective fencing at this location.”

Following Fletcher's death, the DOT placed a fence on the inside part of I-440 Inner Beltline but not on the inside part of the Outer Beltline. The DOT said it thought by adding the fence to one side, it would be an indicator to not jump over the side of the bridge.

"One bridge is higher than the other, and what we saw at the time (in 2005) is for an individual to walk up to the rail of the bridge and look over, it was difficult to see that there was a gap between the bridges," Gibson said.

"From the lower side, you could see the fence, when we put it in. You could also see the wall, and it was apparent that there was some obstruction there."

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  • Adelinthe Dec 4, 2009

    A little late, isn't it?

    There are bridges over inter-states in Cary that are totally encased in fence to keep people from jumping off them and from throwing stuff off them onto cars.

    Why aren't those everywhere???

    God bless.

    RB

  • Bendal1 Dec 4, 2009

    twc,

    The fence will go right on top of the barrier; that's an obvious location just like the other one is. However, it has to be sturdy enough to deal with trucks passing right next to it, can't affect the jersey shape if a vehicle hits it, and be fairly maintenance free. Sticking a piece of "chicken wire" on top of it is not only cheap, it runs the risk of it tearing off and becoming a traffic hazard. Besides, we're not talking about people jumping off this bridge every week; two people have died here in 4 years, so I think we've got time to put something up in the next few months.

    Those of you griping that it "takes too long", that's because the state has rules for awarding contracts when the cost is over a certain amount to avoid favoritism. A proposal has to be drawn up and advertised, then multiple bids have to be accepted after a period of time. Don't like that? Too bad.

  • wildcat Dec 4, 2009

    Good. Hopefully, no one else will try and jump.

  • twc Dec 4, 2009

    "twc,

    please leave the engineering to engineers. the reason you can't put a fence over the opening between the two bridges is because bridges don't stay still. each one moves up and down or back and forth as cars drive over it. this is why you see those lines going accross bridges. they are called expansion joints.

    if you somehow connected these two bridges with a piece of fence, chances are you'd have to replace that fence or repair it very quickly due to the movement of the bridges. the fence would come unhinged and probably fall in the water below.

    please try to educate yourself before you tell someone else how to do their job.
    m0nky"

    Learn to read if you can't do anything else! I never said put a fence across the gap. I said put a fence atop the barrier. There is an example of one near Carolina Barbecue in Cary.

    My "suggestion" is to put the fence atop the barrier to, in effect, make the barrier taller. A person would then have to scale the fence to get over it.

  • HadEnough Dec 4, 2009

    I can tell we have some state employees here just by the excuses for not being able to temporarily fix this thing. Typical BS.
    Why is it everything in state government has to be done by committee? Because you're all afraid to make a decision that's why.

  • m0nky Dec 4, 2009

    twc,

    please leave the engineering to engineers. the reason you can't put a fence over the opening between the two bridges is because bridges don't stay still. each one moves up and down or back and forth as cars drive over it. this is why you see those lines going accross bridges. they are called expansion joints.

    if you somehow connected these two bridges with a piece of fence, chances are you'd have to replace that fence or repair it very quickly due to the movement of the bridges. the fence would come unhinged and probably fall in the water below.

    please try to educate yourself before you tell someone else how to do their job.

  • Bendal1 Dec 4, 2009

    twc,

    I'm not involved in this issue in any professional way. Attaching a fence to the top of the existing barrier rail isn't as simple as any of you would like to think, though. First, the fence has to be securely anchored into the rail, and avoid any reinforcing steel in the barrier. The fence has to be sturdy enough to resist damage if a vehicle brushes up against it, and it needs to be relatively maintenance free.

    Chicken wire, or a woven wire fence, would require constant maintenance, which would endanger the crews sent out to repair it on a regular basis far more often than the fence would save a life by keeping someone from jumping off the bridge.

    You didn't answer my question, though; aren't the outer rails just as dangerous? Or do you want to wait until someone dies falling off of one of them before you start a crusade to get them added there too?

  • twc Dec 4, 2009

    "I still am not sold on the fact that he was being a good Samaritan.

    It was stated that he was a tow truck driver. Was he driving his tow truck that night? Did he stop to help people who had been hurt in an accident or did he see this as a business opportunity?
    findoutthefacts"

    He used to be a tow truck driver. He was currently employed at a restaurant.

  • Great Dane Guy Dec 4, 2009

    findoutthefacts:
    The WRAL story titled "Victim's family: Additional I-440 barriers needed" states the he used to be a tow driver.

    Unless they meant the very immediate "used to be," I don't think he was operating a tow truck at the time.

  • twc Dec 4, 2009

    Bensal1, if you have influence over this matter, just put a fence along the top of the little 3-foot barrier wall so that it doesn't happen again at this location. Why is that so hard to understand that we need to protect even the people who aren't experts on the way bridges are constructed?

    Unless one is totally blind or biased they should be able to visualize how the illusion of a connected highway is the case at that location.

    Geez!!!

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