RMA promises new signs as superindentent promises to hold school bus drivers accountable

Posted at 9:55 PM, May 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-05-30 07:53:46-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- The Richmond Metropolitan Authority has promised to add new signs to the Boulevard Bridge (also known as the Nickel Bridge) as a result of a CBS 6 News investigation.

CBS 6 investigation broke the news of Richmond Public School buses using the Nickel Bridge to transport students after discovering an E-Zpass bill was never paid. School buses weigh nearly 10 tons more than the bridge's 7,500 pound-per-vehicle limit.

Bridge 01

CBS 6 reporter Joe St. George sat down with Superintendent  Dr. Dana Bedden to address what was being done to prevent incidents like this from happening again.

"When do you  ultimately become accountable?" St. George asked.

"I think I am accountable now," Bedden responded.

"It is all about safety.  We can't be in that much of a hurry that we want to take that risk," Bedden added.

Bridge 03

Joe St. George sat down with Superintendent Dr. Dana Bedden.

Bedden said an investigation is underway to determine which drivers were at fault - emphasizing  he believed the incident is grounds for termination of employment.

"How long do you believe the bus was going over the bridge?"  St. George pressed.

"I have no idea - until you contacted me I had no idea this was happening," Bedden said.

The responsibility for bus route safety falls on RPS' transportation director.  Bedden said the position is currently vacant but that a former Chesterfield employee will be taking over shortly.

During the interview with St. George, Bedden hinted that while his drivers are at fault - larger signage could be beneficial to drivers  who use the bridge.

Bridge 02

Apparently, the RMA agreed.

"RMA places the highest priority on the safety of the drivers and passengers on all of our roadways, including our bridges," the organization said in a statement. "As such, where applicable, we post weight limit signs in both directions on our bridges.  Given that the Boulevard Bridge is nearly 100 years old, the RMA has clearly-marked signs at both ends of the Boulevard Bridge noting the applicable vehicle weight restrictions.  This signage also includes a visual graphic prohibiting truck traffic on the Bridge.  To underscore RMA's commitment to safety, we will add a second visual graphic on both ends of the Boulevard Bridge specifically noting that school bus traffic is prohibited on the Bridge.  We expect the drivers on our roadways and bridges to exercise responsibility in observing all posted requirements, whether they relate to weight limitations, speed limits or any other traffic restrictions. "

As for Dr. Bedden - he said the delayed E-Zpass bill was the result of new staffers - staffers that have since been trained and are now part of solution to address issues when they occur head on.

"We can't shy away from factual stuff we need to improve," Bedden added.