On Wednesday I went to Whole Foods in Mount Washington. When I came out, the line of traffic leaving Whole Foods extended from the back of the parking lot to Falls Road. It did not budge.
A bus and a pickup apparently had collided at the entrance of the narrow Smith Avenue bridge. Neither vehicle could move until the police came and photographs were taken. No cars could go over the bridge in either direction. Gridlock lasted about an hour.
Mail trucks lined up along Falls Road waiting to turn to go over the bridge. Swimmers in wet suits sat in cars coming out of Meadowbrook.
Some in the Whole Foods parking lot took the opportunity to go back into the store for a few more items. Others ordered ice cream from Uncle Wiggly. I abstained, because it was dinnertime.
On Thursday I learned that this was the second time in a month that a bus had blocked the bridge. A broken-down school bus had caused the previous tie-up. That day, a woman apparently had a medical problem near the old Northwest Ice Rink, so medics had to walk a stretcher in from Falls Road.
On a nasty, drizzly Wednesday afternoon I feared something similar would happen while traffic waited for the bridge to reopen. Being stuck in a place where the only exit is blocked made me think that the narrow, old bridge should be replaced with one that is wider, or another span should be added.
In my daily trips to swim at Meadowbrook, I’ve also noticed that traffic backs up to the Whole Foods lot, if all cars on the bridge are turning to go north on Falls Road. Apparently, the sensor by the traffic light is only for the right-turn lane. It should be adjusted to cover both lanes.
Changes need to happen. The bridge was fine in the days when only a nut and bolt factory and a church were there, but those days are long gone.