© Jonathan Riley
The east side of the construction zone at the Joggin Bridge.
RCMP have laid two charges in relation to collisions at the Joggin Bridge.
Corporal Patricia MacQuarrie of the Digby detachment says one of those charges was in relation to an accident yesterday, Thursday, Oct. 30.
“We are talking cases were the drivers are following so closely that they can’t get stopped in time if they aren’t paying attention,” said MacQuarrie.
She says they are also cracking down on anyone speeding on the approaches to the Joggin Bridge construction zone.
She says drivers have had enough time to get used to the construction zone and there’s no excuse for anyone driving over 80 kmh in that area.
“They have signs galore, flashing lights, and it’s been there long enough that people shouldn’t be surprised,” says MacQuarrie.
The RCMP have records for at least six serious collisions at the construction site just east of Digby on Highway 101.
MacQuarrie says RCMP officers were lenient with drivers when the construction zone was first set up in September but now, officers are parking out there to ticket drivers who aren’t making the necessary adjustments.
MacQuarrie says most of the people causing the collisions are from the local area.
Joe Cole, the district traffic supervisor with the Department of Transportation, says in general, when he examines collision histories, it is people familiar with a road who fail to notice changes.
“People from away are hyper-aware, they don’t want to make a mistake, and they drive according to the signs,” says Cole. “Locals, people who know the road, they don’t notice when a sign changes, because they aren’t driving according to the signs and they don’t change their patterns.”
After the fourth accident at the Joggin on Friday, Oct. 9, the department added an electronic message board to both ends of the signage areas that say “Be prepared to stop.”
A fifth accident happened Oct. 26 and a sixth yesterday, Oct. 30.
Cole says they already had 1.5 km of signs warning drivers to slow down for the traffic lights.
“I don’t think there is much more we can do,” says Cole. “The goal is to get the drivers’ attention but at what point do the signs start becoming a distraction?
“We won’t be putting more signs closer to the signals because at that point we want drivers to focus on the signals and to concentrate on vehicles slowing down in front of them.”
Cole says traffic research doesn’t support making drivers slow down to 50 kmh.
“We want the drivers to stop,” says Cole. “We don’t want to clutter that message too much with signage asking them to slow down. We want them to focus on coming to a complete stop.”
Steve Smith, spokesperson for the Department of Transportation, says weather has pushed back the estimated completion date by a week to the end of November.
Eastern Infrastructure is carrying out repairs to some of the steel underneath the bridge, as well as painting and repairs to the bridge rail.
They won the tender in August with a bid of $791,321.