FALL RIVER – Road safety is a two-way street, especially when it comes to the southbound exit ramp on the Fall River side of the Veterans Memorial Bridge.
Last week marked the start of the installation of more than 1,500 linear feet of aluminum “snow fences” by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation on both sides of the two-lane ramp – which veers right onto the roads. 79 and 138 south as well as route 6.
It has been more than seven months since Gary Amaral, 35, of Fall River, was killed after being thrown into the Taunton River at least 40 feet below what is sometimes called a “spaghetti ramp.”
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Motorcycle accidents prompted action
Police said Amaral’s Kawasaki motorcycle struck the interior section of the 32-inch-high jersey barrier that faces the river.
There was a similar accident in June 2020, when police said a man riding a motorcycle failed to negotiate the ramp and was thrown over the concrete barrier into shallow water near the Fall River shore.
The unidentified driver survived but was taken to Rhode Island hospital with internal injuries, police said.
A smaller portion representing a total of 1,610 linear feet of protective fence is also installed on the south side of the ramp northbound from Highway 79 to connect to an existing snow fence.
MassDOT says the work will take about a month and is being carried out Monday through Friday from 5:30 am to 1:30 pm During those hours, they said, the two lanes of the southbound ramp will be reduced to one lane.
MassDOT’s decision to install the additional fence – which they say will cost $ 900,000 – came after Fall River City Council responded to Amaral’s death by voting to send a letter to the local delegation, urging them to bring the matter to the attention of the state transport service.
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Mayor Paul Coogan sent his own letter to local lawmakers and State Representative Carole Fiola said she had contacted MassDOT to urge them to expedite a ramp safety assessment the day after the crash. Amaral and his catapult in the Taunton River.
The posted speed limit entering the southbound exit ramp is 30 mph.
Speed ââis a factor in another recent accident
But despite many reports of Amaral’s death, it is clear that not all motorcyclists have slowed down enough.
Massachusetts State Police said a 34-year-old man from Fall River, shortly after 10 p.m. on June 5, crashed his 2005 Suzuki GSXR “race-style” motorcycle as he was about to crash. ‘enter the same ramp.
Police said the operator crashed his motorcycle into the impact attenuator near the entrance to the ramp.
“The vehicle was traveling too fast to be able to maneuver the exit ramp and crashed into the attenuator,” police said in a statement.
State police also said a witness driving across the bridge in the same direction said the motorcyclist passed him before crashing into the yellow and black attenuator.
According to police, this witness also said the motorcyclist fled on foot and ran down the ramp when he learned that the police had been called.
As for the motorcycle, police said it “has been totaled and towed from the scene.”
Police said they managed to locate the motorcyclist, who they said suffered “injuries” and issued him with a criminal summons.
The misdemeanor charges included operating a motor vehicle with a suspended license; drive an uninsured motor vehicle; drive an unregistered motor vehicle; and leave the premises with resulting material damage.
Other security improvements
Drivers heading east on the Veterans Memorial Bridge on Route 6 from Somerset to Fall River can either turn right onto the ramp southbound or stay in the leftmost lane to head south. north on Route 79, which eventually connects to Route 24 north.
Previous safety improvements to the bridge after Gary Amaral’s death have included replacing the yellow and black 30 mph sign at the entrance to the ramp with a larger sign that has an image of a circular arrow.
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Identical signs have also been erected as a warning at the entrance to Somerset Bridge and halfway across the bridge. The posted speed limit for the bridge itself is 40 mph.
Earlier this year, MassDOT also installed a âlinear boundary systemâ consisting of reflective panels on the concrete barrier on the east side of the southbound exit ramp.