Last week, video footage was released from a Dec. 19 incident involving a vehicle going over a retaining wall of the Hoan Bridge in Milwaukee and plunging to the ground, killing Christopher Weber, the driver of the truck.
It’s horrific to see and think about. What would be even worse is if this happened again.
The reality is that, if issues are not addressed, this could happen again all too easily.
A letter written last month to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation from state Reps. Christine Sinicki and Jonathan Brostoff, both D-Milwaukee, state Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, stated that many constituents have expressed concerns about the bridge.
The Hoan Bridge underwent reconstruction in 2014 and 2015. Since it reopened, people have expressed concerns that retaining walls are not high enough.
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“We have many constituents who drive over the Hoan Bridge as part of their daily commute,” the letter from lawmakers stated. “Some have remarked that the retaining walls seem too short to effectively restrain tall passenger vehicles like the truck Christopher Weber was driving. In fact, we recently heard from one constituent who noticed skid marks and bent guardrails on portions of the bridge, suggesting that other vehicles have come perilously close to tipping over the edge as well. It is concerning to think that these factors could combine someday to produce a larger accident, possibly sending multiple vehicles over the retaining wall.”
Considering the gusting winds, slick ice and speeding drivers, another accident appears inevitable. The DOT should move quickly to address the issue of guardrails and retaining walls.
In the meantime, it should also address plowing concerns.
The letter also states: “Our understanding is that the ramps of snow created by plowing toward the bridge’s outer walls may have contributed to the accident … by creating a gradient up the sides of the bridge.”
To address this concern, lawmakers recommended that snowplows be directed to remove snow from the Hoan Bridge altogether when possible.
These issues need to be addressed — the sooner, the better.
The state has a road funding problem, but safety cannot be sacrificed.