I write to address the article in last week’s Jamestown Press – “Turbine Sparks Veiled Threat.” In the story, a Providence attorney named Brian Lamoureux, who has been hired by the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, states that there is great danger that “shadow flicker” may distract drivers driving on the Newport Bridge or elsewhere nearby.
There is no indication that Mr. Lamoureux has an advanced degree in aeronautics or special training in “shadow flicker” or other light hazards. He tries to frighten us by speaking of the 10 million trips across the bridge, some of which may be dangerous.
The bridge can be dangerous. Driving east in the morning, one encounters the rising sun; returning in the late afternoon driving west, the same sun may wait to dazzle us. On stormy days, strong winds often blow from north or south, making cars feel a pull or tug. Workmen are often on the bridge, reducing traffic to one lane each way.
Every day brings distractions: freighters and pleasure boats, sometimes a bay full of sailboats, towering cloud formations and new weather arriving.
Some bridge users drive much faster than the posted speeds. None of this is attributable to “shadow flicker.”
There is evidently concern that a turbine may be an eyesore when located near a handsome bridge. It is worth reminding ourselves that we have a historic district dedicated to a windmill that formerly ground corn in past centuries. I am of Dutch stock and my mother’s family used to dwell near the dikes that protected against the North Sea. I don’t believe anyone ever said that the windmills made the dikes look ugly.
Rather than one turbine, let us build four or five of them near one another and make them an icon for our 21st century – a time when we utilize wind, sunshine and other natural elements to create energy, rather than relying on coal, oil or natural gas.
If we need to hire our own attorney to pursue the matter with the Rhode Island Turnpike and Bridge Authority, I urge that we do that.
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