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State inspectors flagged light pole problems on Moakley Bridge before pole struck woman Tues.

Light poles on the Moakley Bridge in Boston.Lane Turner/Globe Staff

State bridge inspectors warned a Boston official on Aug. 1 that some light poles on the Evelyn Moakley Bridge, which connects downtown to the Seaport district, had “100% section loss at the bases” and needed repairs, nearly two months before a pedestrian was seriously injured Tuesday by a falling pole, records show.

An email from Gerald M. O’Connor, a bridge inspection engineer with the MassDOT’s highway division, was sent to City Engineer Para M. Jayasinghe,according to a copy of the message provided by MassDOT. O’Connor’s warning on the light poles was first reported by WCVB-TV.

“Some of the lighting standards have 100% section loss at the bases and need attention,” he wrote on Aug. 1.


In a separate letter sent the same day, Mark Griffin, another state bridge and tunnel inspection engineer, told Jayasinghe that fixing “the deficiencies reported is the owner/custodian’s responsibility,” meaning the city’s. “Chapter 90 [state] funds may be used for these purposes.”

Mayor Michelle Wu told reporters Friday it was her understanding that “the overall report came back with a rating that the pole was in a certain condition that needed attention and action in the years to come, but it wasn’t identified as an immediate crisis in that moment.”

The inspection found no “critical-structural” or “critical-hazard” deficiencies, according to the report, and no items were identified as needing repair “as soon as possible.”

City officials also said Friday that the state report rated the poles as a ‘5′ on a 9-point scale. This rating corresponds with “fair” condition, defined as “all primary structural elements are sound but may have minor section loss, cracking, spalling or scour.”

On Aug. 3, the city sent the report to a consulting firm to develop a work plan for the fixes. That plan remains in development, officials said.


“Clearly there’s been faster erosion, and we’ve now looked across all of the bridges that might have exposure to saltwater, [which can] speed up that corrosion and structural instability, and have taken actions out of an abundance of caution,” Wu said. But “clearly some of the insides of the poles in the areas that were not identified as an immediate crisis in the report led to something that absolutely should have been preventable.”

On Tuesday afternoon, a 35-year-old woman was hit by a light pole that fell on the bridge. On Wednesday, she was listed in stable condition, authorities said.

The day after the accident, crews removed 23 street lights from the bridge as a precaution, officials said. The bridge and street lights were built in the 1990s as part of the Big Dig.

City Council President Ed Flynn, meanwhile, is calling for a citywide inspection of all bridges and light poles.

“It is appropriate for neighbors and the general public to be concerned about public safety with respect to our aging infrastructure,” Flynn said in a statement this week. “At this time, I am respectfully requesting a full audit of both the City of Boston’s bridges and light poles to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors alike.”

Flynn said light poles on bridges and in close proximity to the ocean should be prioritized due to deterioration caused by salt water and sea air.

“In the interest of public safety, I ask the City of Boston to continue to work closely with our state and federal partners to prevent an incident like this from occurring again,” Flynn said.


Material from prior Globe stories was used in this report.

Travis Andersen can be reached at travis.andersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.