by Audrey Thomasson
LANCASTER—Drivers gazing at the river or racing to beat the signal light in the work zone are being blamed for three accidents on the Robert O. Norris Jr. Memorial Bridge in a five-day period.
“The crashes have been rear-end collisions due to driver inattention and speed,” reported Sgt. Steve M. Vick with Virginia State Police (VSP).
Traffic crossing the center span of the Norris bridge is down to one lane 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week for up to a year while crews work to remove rust and then repaint the steel structure. Automated signal lights were installed on the bridge at either end of the work zone to move traffic, one direction at a time.
According to Sgt. Vick, troopers situated in the work zone have observed instances of vehicles traveling speeds in excess of 60 mph in order to beat the lights.
Lancaster County Sheriff Patrick McCranie said drivers stopped at the light have reported being passed by vehicles traveling 70 mph to avoid waiting for the next green light.
“A lot of the problem is driver inattention,” said Sheriff McCranie of the three accidents, all rear-end collisions which resulted in injuries.
On June 14, a vehicle waiting in line at the light was rear-ended by another vehicle. On June 17, a three-car crash occurred when a driver rammed two other vehicles stopped at the light. On June 18, two Harley Davidson motorcycles were stopped at the light when a third Harley Davidson motorcycle drove into them.
The accidents tied up traffic for hours as ambulances took the injured to the hospital and tow trucks were called in to remove vehicles.
In all the cases, the lights were functioning properly.
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