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.
Boston Police said the woman, believed to be in her 30s, 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.
“I just heard a big bang, a lot of glass shattered, too,” said Ricky Caswell, who witnessed the crash’s immediate aftermath.
Caswell, a manager at the nearby restaurant The Barking Crab, 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.
“It fell at an angle, so it was like, hit her like back shoulder, so she didn’t even see it coming,” Caswell said. “The glass kind of exploded – we got glass on the dock, with the actual top to the light post actually fell into the harbor.”
Caswell said he heard the screams and the splash immediately after the pole fell. When he approached the scene, he said the victim appeared to be seriously injured.
“She went right down – didn’t get back up,” he added, saying 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.
“The City of Boston prioritizes the safety of its residents and visitors, and in the interest of safety, the sidewalks and bike path were closed and vehicular traffic reduced to one lane in each direction until Public Works crews could evaluate all street lights,” a city spokesperson said in a statement Wednesday. “Upon inspection overnight, crews removed 23 poles of the same age from the bridge out of an abundance of caution.”
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.”
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 is now calling for citywide inspections of bridges and light poles.
Although pedestrians are asked to not walk over the bridge some people are still taking the chance.
“I just hope the city uses this as a wake-up call and try to be a little more proactive [rather] than reactive,” said Caswell.
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