Westwood Officials Looking Into East Street Bridge Solutions
The Westwood Board of Selectmen composed a list of issues and potential solutions to discuss moving forward in an effort to enhance safety for those passing under the bridge.
The East Street bridge.
It's been a topic of concern among Westwood residents for some time. Many recently voiced their concerns over traveling under the bridge at a Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety Committee meeting in late June, and now the matter is on the Westwood Board of Selectmen's radar.
"We began to notice and hear about a lot of issues relating to the East Street bridge," Westwood Town Administrator Mike Jaillet told Westwood Patch on Wednesday. "We had started talking about it internally among the staff."
Those discussions began shortly after an MBTA became stuck under the bridge in May, an incident that resulted in many area residents being evacuated due to the leak of natural gas tanks that were attached to the bus's roof.
"We intensified our efforts, and are looking into the situation," said Jaillet, who noted two focal points of the safety issues near the bridge: height and the narrow passageway underneath. Both have arguably been the root of various accidents over the years, from vehicle collisions under the bridge to trucks that are too high to pass through becoming lodged.
Jaillet spoke with the Selectmen at the board's meeting Monday night. The board then compiled a list of issues that it felt could be addressed in the short term while a long-term approach is considered more at length. The list has been submitted to an engineering group that will work with the town, Jaillet said.
Among the short-term solutions to be discussed were new signage in the area, enhanced reflectors on the bridge itself, and the possibility of a laser-connection device that would, if passed through, alert vehicles of certain height that they would not be able to pass through the bridge.
"If a vehicle is too high, it'll hit that, and that will tell you that you're too high," Jaillet said. "The other thing is to have improved signage along Washington Street warning people that turn onto East Street because of the bridge."
He added, "The long-term solutions are probably addressing the bridge itself," he said. "We on the board said that this was a long-standing issue, that we have addressed it on a short-term basis, but it's time to sit down with the MBTA and hold a serious discussion. The answer to the problem is going to be replacing the bridge."
The bridge is owned by the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (MBTA), which is why it would need to be included in discussions moving forward. But the short-term solutions, such as additional signs, are items the town can address, Jaillet said.
"We are taking actions to address this situation," Jaillet said. "We find it to be unacceptable, and we need to get something to the MBTA and MassDOT to heighten their awareness."