Mar 062015

Dear Blue Paper –

It’s time to make some serious changes regarding the 7 Mile bridge. I never cross the bridge that I don’t worry about making it safely to the other side. I have seen too many absolutely crazy, insane drivers on the bridge over 30 or more years. As a law abiding driver, it is frightening to be on that bridge. There is NOWHERE to go if suddenly some lunatic in a hurry, or some tanked up drunk who has been partying in Key West is suddenly in YOUR LANE!

One night very late we followed a drunk in a pickup truck, he kept hitting curbs and wandering all over the road. As I fumbled to find my cell phone to call the Sheriff, he turned into a driveway. What if that had been on the 7 mile bridge? What if someone had been coming the opposite direction?

How many times do we see the rubber-necking tourists, or people texting or playing with their phones, and even taking pictures instead of concentrating on driving – but most scary are those with no regard for others who dangerously pass other cars and often multiple cars on a bridge. I recall maybe 10 years ago a yellow corvette driving probably 90 – 100 mph on the 7 Mile bridge passing everything in his way. I was in shock and angry at such little regard for others safety and lives.

This letter is asking our Sheriff Rick Ramsey, the Florida Highway Patrol, all Keys government officials, FDOT, local elected officials, and the TDC and Chambers of Commerce to make make the 7 mile bridge safety a priority. We locals must rely on US1 to come and go and tourists who want to enjoy a beautiful SAFE drive through our islands need your help. The current situation is NOT acceptable. It could even be a multi-million dollar lawsuit waiting to happen, not to speak of the loss of life.

So let’s do something. Here are a few possible solutions:
* Make it ILLEGAL TO PASS on the 7 mile bridge (and maybe ALL the Keys bridges). Institute a POSTED, stiff like $500 penalty for passing!
* Install some kind of median barrier for our safety. SOMETHING HAS TO BE DONE to protect innocent drivers.
Install cameras to catch violators who speed and pass unsafely. Capture their license plates number and mail them a hefty ticket, maybe take their license away. There are cameras at intersections to catch those running red lights and this seems much worse when there is no where to escape a potential 120mph or much greater impact.
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I ran across this from an article on-line: “The seven mile bridge has been the scene of thousands of car accidents and hundreds of fatalities, since it opened in 1982 -The first seven mile bridge was built in 1912.- The head on collision Ruth and her late friend endured was avoidable, like most traffic crashes. But because there are not any guardrails separating northbound and southbound traffic, any driver is at the mercy of the negligence of another. Whether a vehicle passes a slower vehicle, a drunk driver veers in and out of his traffic lane, or someone loses control from texting and driving, there is nothing that an innocent victim can do to avoid the collision. The seven mile bridge has two traveling lanes, and no room on either side of the traveling lanes to escape danger. That is why the seven mile bridge in Marathon remains one of the most dangerous bridges in the entire country. Less than a month ago, another fatal accident occurred on the bridge, involving two vehicles, one of which caught fire in the collision.”

PLEASE, let’s start a conversation about this very dangerous situation. Let’s do something NOW, before some else dies. Next time it could be your good friend or a family member who finds themselves staring at a car in their lane.

Christine Russell
Key West

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 March 6, 2015  Posted by at 1:16 am Issue #104, Letter to the Editor  Add comments

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