Local News

DOT: No inherent risk in parallel highway bridges

Posted December 22, 2009

— The state Department of Transportation announced Tuesday that an investigation found no inherent safety risk in the design of the Interstate 440 bridge where a Raleigh man fell to his death last month.

DOT: No plans to change bridge design DOT: No plans to change bridge design

Raleigh police said Carroll Lee Eames Jr., 33, of Willow Spring, stopped on the bridge between Glenwood Avenue and Six Forks Road to direct traffic after a collision. He jumped over a barrier between the eastbound and westbound lanes to avoid oncoming traffic.

The state plans to add a fence between the bridges at that location, at a cost of about $30,000, but does not plan sweeping changes statewide, State Highway Administrator Terry Gibson said.

“We don't see a pattern statewide that would really make it viable for us to go out and do that,” he said. “We don't see, for the money we would spend, that we would get that much protection. We just don't see that many of that type of accident occurring.”

DOT found three similar deaths on other parallel bridges over the last 9 years statewide. Todd Fletcher, 26, died in a similar fall at the same I-440 bridge in October 2005.

The DOT investigation did note an alarming number of Good Samaritans killed or injured when stopping to help after car accidents. Because of that, the state plans a public education campaign about safety after a wreck.

State law requires that vehicles involved in a wreck be moved off the roadway, if possible. DOT advises that drivers stay inside their cars after a wreck and wait for emergency personnel.

The DOT also suggests:

  • Move to the right of the road, onto the shoulder or grass if you can do so safely.
  • Turn on hazard lights.
  • Never exit the car on the side of oncoming traffic.

This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • james27613 Dec 23, 2009

    No need to 'fix' anything.

    Just stay in your car and let the emergency workers
    do the job.

  • Vietnam Vet Dec 23, 2009

    No inherent risk? A man is dead. How is it there is no inherent risk?

  • methinkthis Dec 23, 2009

    So until someone dies there is no inherent risk. Then there is only need to fix where the person died. Stuck on stupid?

  • whatelseisnew Dec 23, 2009

    that is the typical response of our Government at all levels. They take zero action until enough people die. There may not be a systemic problem, however, at the very least identify those bridges that could cause death from a fall and do something to prevent the deaths. A 30,000 fence, I wonder what it cost for just the latest death.

  • Bendal1 Dec 23, 2009

    These two fatalities were regrettable, but also very rare and impossible to predict. Interstates are in no way designed for pedestrians, and putting up fences to stop what is basically a random incident won't solve anything. How would you predict which bridge is most likely to have someone jump off of it?

    Despite what pbjbeach implies, DOT isn't full of people "selling out" or incompetent or anything else. He's got a personal grudge with that agency and is letting it color everything he says. This is the correct decision to make regarding this issue although no doubt some will not think so.

  • ncwebguy Dec 23, 2009

    If the fence was already up, the SECOND victim would have known to jump onto one of the vehicles involved in the accident instead of the false safety of the other side of the barrier.

    Or he could have tried to jump and cling onto the fence itself. Or run one way or the other along the barrier instead of over it.

    Instead, the ignornat continue to tell other people what they think about everything.

  • ncwebguy Dec 23, 2009

    It is sad that there are two groups of people -- people who believe they should help others, and people who believe they should be helped and have no need to help anyone else.

    It is sad that people in the latter group post early and often here.

    The good samaritans that have died have been from out of town and don't *know* they are on a split-level bridge since it looks like there is traffic coming from the other direction at roughly the same height. When it is dark out, the "obvious" gaps become a lot less obvious.

    Why would anyone suggest anyone be *fired* because of this? How many people need to die before the idea of building a fence here is a good idea? The only human life that has any value is yours and yours alone, right? It must be nice to live in such a perfect world.

  • AtALost Dec 23, 2009

    Yellow-Hat, I agree. However the problem started before jumping over a barrier. While it's wonderful that some people are so helpful (or just nosey and want to be first on scene), you put yourself in danger when you leave your vehicle. Same is true when you stop your vehicle on an INTERSTATE where stopping and braking are expected only at exits. Safe driving requires intelligence and reasoning. Even with flashing lights, some "drivers" still run into officers, other cars, etc. Also, drivers with depth perception issues, night blindness, and other disorders still drive despite their handicaps. Because of this and the extreme lack of common sense and concern, we now have a law requiring motorists to slow down or move over. It's sad but no country can afford to make everything child proof.

  • Fauxmittens Dec 23, 2009

    $30,000 isn't just the cost of the fence. You have to include the labor in erecting it, The equiptment used in attaching it to the bridge, and the placement of barriers and warning devices so that the workers don't also become traffic fatalities. All in all, $30,000 sounds pretty cheap.

  • Average Guy Dec 23, 2009

    It is a tragedy that those people fell to their deaths when they jumped the barrier, but the state should not be held responsible for actions that are out of the ordinary. It should be common knowledge that there is generally a gap between bridges and that the barrier is there for a reason. I'm glad that the government concluded that statewide action was not necessary, but feel that they caved to public opinion in deciding to erect a fence at this particular bridge. Why spend $30K for an unnecessary fence? If they feel so strongly that something must be done, why not make a stencil and spray "MIND THE GAP" every 40 feet or so along the barrier... including materials and labor, I bet that would cost about $100.