I-Team: Falling Ice Puts Drivers At Risk On Zakim Bridge

By Karen Anderson, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – It has been almost ten years since the Zakim Bridge opened to traffic. Since then, it has become an iconic symbol of Boston. It may be beautiful, but some drivers wonder if the bridge is safe in bad weather.

Ben Walsh of Jamaica Plain had a terrifying experience driving across the bridge during a November snowstorm. “From the sky fell a giant block of ice. [It was] probably about three feet, by one foot. It fell directly in front of me,” he said. It was that ice, according to Walsh, that shattered his windshield. “It sounded a lot like a car crash. It was very loud, very frightening,” he said.

It may sound like a freak accident, but it’s happened before. Back in 2005 our cameras caught video of large chunks of ice falling from the bridge. They looked similar to the one that Walsh describes hitting his car. A car driving over the bridge that day also ended up with a smashed windshield.

Records from the Department of Transportation show there have been three reported incidents of ice falling from the bridge since it opened in 2003: that incident back in 2005 and two last year. According to Transportation Secretary Richard Davey, MassDOT takes every report seriously. “If folks, our customers, see anything out there whatsoever, please call and let us know, we’ll dispatch crews immediately,” he said.

But there’s no telling how many unreported incidents there may be. Take Walsh’s case, for example. His girlfriend reported it to the city, but they say it fell on deaf ears. “She talked to a secretary there who forwarded her to someone else and they sent her to a voice mail.

Sources close to the design and construction of the Zakim tell the I-Team that ice has been falling from the bridge since it opened, but that large pieces are rare.

According to Davey, there are no design flaws in the bridge and drivers should have no concerns about their safety. Ben Walsh is not so sure. “I definitely feel like someone could be killed,” he said.

MassDOT says if you any problems on the Zakim or any road they want to know right away so they can take action, like posting an electronic sign warning of any potential danger.

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