Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Your Kids Are On That Bridge, Too

You know that big antique store in Newport? The armory one? I went there today around 2:00 and did a full walk-through looking for some LMGs. I found a really cool framed movie poster from 1972 for $45, and I had $40 on me. So I suggested $35 only to be told they can't come down on these dealers' prices unless the thing costs more than $200. So I told the man I was $5 short and gave that "can't you do something?" look. He then said, Wait a minute, this never happens, but the dealer for this section is here right now. Next thing I knew I was being introduced to the dealer, and he happily accepted my forty bucks. I tossed around the obligatory yet facetious "Christmas Miracle" phrase, made my purchase, and walked out to my car hearing firetrucks in the distance.


Back in October, the brother of Kenny Prior wrote a long piece about how Kenny was killed along with his driver on the Newport (Pell) Bridge in 2011. It appeared as a pamphlet inside the local papers. The text of it can be seen here. The guy and his family called for a median to be installed. And they're exactly right. Vehicles fly past one another going 70 mph. If the selfish texting teen hadn't crossed over three lanes, slamming into another car head-on, two people would be alive today instead of dead. But at least with a median the dumb fuck might have noticed he was drifting once his car reached the middle of the bridge.


I headed for the arches and as I got to the ramp to the bridge, I noticed cars driving down a grassy slope from the ramp back to the main road. Not just one yahoo who decided last-minute against going to Jamestown and points north/west, but multiple cars. Could traffic be that bad that the whole bridge is stopped and people are turning back? Then I saw cops and a line of stopped cars. Then I realized the entrance ramp to the Newport Bridge was blocked off. I was able to keep right on driving, heading for the alternate folksy route from Newport to Providence. A tow-truck was headed onto the bridge in my rearview.


The family's crusade--which included a lawsuit and a message on a truck that I've spotted numerous times around Newport and Jamestown--led to headlines a few days ago about a study the state will be doing to see how to go about putting in a median, if they do it at all. Slowly but surely, things are happening. But how many people will die while wait?


Being on the east side of Narragansett Bay, I stopped at my wife's soap shop, and fired up the Twitter. "Head-on collision." Initial reports said it was fatal. Now they're saying no details are available, other than two people at separate hospitals. I saw the pictures of the crash. Two cars destroyed. The lives of the people inside maybe also destroyed. So the "Christmas Miracle" at my house wasn't the deal on the poster. It was the extra time it took to obtain the poster which led to me not being right there when giant metal objects, maybe mine one of them, came crashing together at a high speed. Of course, I could have gone home after surviving this crash and had all my limbs cut off in an even worse one. And if there really are "miracles," why would the entity in charge be screwing around with us, letting one person live and another die. "Blasphemous rumors" to think about.... Here's hoping your Christmas Coincidences are the kind that make you live, not die.


As for the median, whether today's victims live or die, this was the moment where the mayor now realizes there's no choice but to pay Quint to catch the shark. To whoever's in charge here in Rhode Island: You're the mayor of Crash City. These people think you want the median-free bridge open! ... Sign it.


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Location: Rhode Island, United States