Thank you very much for shining some light on the Sunshine Bridge. The article was very informative and attempted to explain the long delays caused by the project; however, it could have included suggestions that could greatly reduce the delays.
The first thing that everyone concerned has to acknowledge is that this is a hazardous situation. Everyone I know who crosses the bridge thinks it is hazardous. But the DOTD and Captain Poche, of the St. James Parish Sheriff’s Office, doesn’t think it is any problem and Mr. George Pilapos, who is superintendent on the job, says that his contract doesn’t call for any type of lighting, so he is not providing any. Despite their opinions, I know of three people who have had serious damage to their cars while crossing the bridge (I am one) and of one person who quit her job because she thought it was too dangerous to cross the bridge daily.
The lanes on the bridge are very narrow with barricades on each side, but this is not a problem. The problem and what makes it hazardous, in my mind, is that the covering over the bridge essentially makes it a tunnel without lights. On a clear, bright day when a driver enters this covered area, it’s like entering a dark room and it takes time before the eyes can adjust to the change in lighting. For maybe 15 seconds I find that I am totally blind. Most drivers slow down drastically or even come to a stop at this point and some have accidents. All this causes slowdowns in traffic and exacerbates an already bad situation.
I would not expect Mr. Pilapos to put lights in his tunnel but if he were to just put reflectors on the barricades on each side they could be picked up by the car’s headlights and greatly reduce the uneasiness here. Also, in addition to a 45-mile-per-hour speed sign, which is all they have on the approach, a “caution” sign and “lights on” sign would probably greatly reduce the slowdown and maybe even prevent a few accidents.
We all realize that the bridge needs painting but reasonable efforts should be taken to avoid accidents, and I certainly hope something is done before the really big one happens.
Glenn J. Robert