After criticism from residents of a Massachusetts town, the state Department of Transportation has begun removing spikes that were recently installed underneath a bridge to keep trespassers away.
Crews began removing the several hundred feet of metal spike strips Monday from under a narrow space of a Route 2 bridge in Arlington. A bike/foot path runs under the bridge near the Alewife transportation hub.
Town Manager Adam Chapdelaine said the spikes appeared after discussions with state officials about ways to discourage homeless people from sleeping under the bridge — but the town never asked for them.
"The spikes seemed to have a feeling of treating these people like animals that we just weren’t comfortable with," said Chapdelaine. "I know we had discussed fencing and they had some concerns with that."
A Transportation Department spokesman said the spikes were installed to keep out "trespassers" then reversed course after community reaction.
"This is just concerning itself," said Arlington resident Lisa Tringale holding a strip of spikes that had just been removed.
"If there are people up there and this is how we're dealing with it, that's a huge problem," added another resident who did not want to give his name.
Transportation officials are now trying to figure out other ways to keep the area clean and safe while also helping the homeless.
"There were hypodermic needles, human waste, there was a colostomy bag found," said Chapdelaine. "We have a lot more work to do to figure out what the right strategy is."