BOSTON (WHDH) - Pedestrians are once again being urged to stay off the Moakley Bridge as crews conduct a further inspection after a light pole fell and hit a woman Tuesday prompting emergency inspections that resulted in the removal of 23 light poles.
“What happened on the Moakley Bridge is absolutely unacceptable,” Boston Mayor Michelle Wu said Thursday.
Boston Police said the woman, 35, was hurt after the pole came down on the Evelyn Moakley Bridge around 3 p.m., Tuesday. 7NEWS sources said the victim, reportedly from Houston, Texas, was struck in the head by the rotted-out pole and has been recovering at Tufts Medical Center. She’s now in stable condition.
Ricky Caswell, a manager at the nearby restaurant The Barking Crab, witnessed the crash’s immediate aftermath and said everyone looked over to the bridge to see the pole had toppled over with several pedestrians nearby. He said he then attempted to run in and help as the scene attracted a crowd.
“She went right down – didn’t get back up,” Caswell said, adding that the woman was pinned by the post at one point with witnesses trying to lift it off of her. “From my understanding, she has a broken leg and a fractured skull. It’s kind of like, how does that happen?”
Crews were later seen dismantling individual poles and laying them on the ground following the incident, closing the bridge’s sidewalks on Seaport Boulevard. Crews removed 23 poles from the bridge the next day “out of an abundance of caution,” a city spokesperson said.
“I am so thankful that thanks to the quick actions of our first responders and Emergency Medical Services that a life was saved,” said Wu.
The bridge and street lights were built in the 1990s by MassDOT as part of the Big Dig, according to the City. Officials also gave the poles a “5” rating on a scale of 1-9 in a January 2022 inspection of the bridge, marking them as being in “fair condition.” Pages in the same inspection report also featured pictures of rusted-out poles.
“It looked pretty rusted out,” Caswell said. “I just assumed there was like some support that went feet into the ground, where that was just kind of cosmetic rust, but, apparently, it wasn’t. I just hope the city kind of uses this as like a wakeup call, try to be a little more pro-active instead of reactive.”
“As infrastructure gets older and older, you need to check it more frequently because it’s getting closer and closer to the end of its useful life,” said Jim Lambrechts, a civil engineering professor at the Wentworth Institute of Technology.
He said that the rust at the bottom of the pole was in the “splash zone” for road salts, which likely caused the deterioration.
Temporary lighting has since been installed on Moakley Bridge to ensure adequate lighting levels until a permanent replacement can be installed, but the City Council President Ed Flynn is now calling for citywide inspections of bridges and light poles.
Wu said the infrastructure in Boston needs to be updated so this doesn’t happen again.
“We’re looking at infrastructure across the city, it goes beyond light poles,” said Wu. “We’re in a city that is nearly 400 years old so we’re doing a deep dive to make sure all that infrastructure is safe, secure… Serious injuries from walking around in our city is something we just can’t have happen.”
Some pedestrians are still taking the chance and walking over the bridge despite being urged not to do so.
The city said so far 23 of the poles on Moakley Bridge have been replaced since Tuesday.
(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)