One of multiple chutes erected outside Blacktip Island’s Sand Spit bar to funnel drunken bar patrons onto a pedestrian overpass over the island’s road. (photo courtesy of Dash Goby)
A Blacktip Island bar owner, concerned about a spate of near-accidents outside the Sand Spit bar, this week installed a pedestrians-only overpass to get drunk patrons to their vehicles safely.
“Customers were getting clipped crossing the road, walking into passing cars, you name it,” Sand Spit owner Dash Goby said. “Our customers get run over, we’ll be out of business in no time. I had to do something.
“The answer was a footbridge over the road, like those wildlife crossing over highways,” Goby said. “A bunch of waist-high walls funnel people from the bar doors out to the bridge, then over to the car park. We tried a tunnel a few years back, but people kept going in there and passing out. And peeing. And barfing. It made things worse, really.”
Sand Spit patrons applauded the move.
“You don’t even notice you’re using it,” James Conlee said. “It slopes up, then back down so gentle you don’t know if it’s a bridge or what you’ve been drinking.
“Got eight-foot-high walls up top, so you can’t fall off, and they’re slick, so they don’t scuff you up so bad,” Conlee said. “And there’s lights every 20 feet so you don’t get lost. Stagger out the bar, and next thing you know, you’re at your car.”
The overpass has alarmed others in the community.
“How about not letting drunks drive?” Lucille Ray said. “Maybe take their car keys, or, I don’t know, don’t over serve them. It’s already not safe to be on the road after dark, and here’s Dash making matters worse.”
Goby was quick to defend the overpass.
“I’m keeping people alive and safe, period,” he said. “What they do across the road is their business. Hell, most of them pass out in their cars anyway.
“And on Blacktip everyone leaves their keys in the ignition,” Goby said. “People on this island drink. A lot. I can’t change that. I’m just helping them do it safely.”
The island’s police had mixed feelings about the overpass.
“It’s not adding to the drunk driving problem. These people are going to do that anyway, bridge or no,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “If it keeps drunks from being hit by cars, that’s a good thing.
“It’s not ideal, but it’s a step in the right direction,” Marquette said. “This is a ‘when a donkey flies, you don’t fault it for not staying up too long’ situation. And I’m working with Dash on building similar chutes to funnel drunk drivers to the police station. Or at least away from the booby pond. There’s been way too many one-car accidents lately.”