Looking to prevent dangerous bridge strikes, New York is spending $4.3 million to install additional detectors to keep over-height vehicles off state parkways, where overpasses are lower than many.
The detector systems are intended to prevent incidents that in 2017 have so far included more than 120 intrusions of above-clearance vehicles onto state parkways, as well as more than 40 bridge strikes.
Because New York state parkways traditionally have bridges that are lower than the standard legal bridge clearance, commercial vehicles, school buses, tractor-trailers and other tall vehicles are banned from its parkways. However, this has not always kept larger vehicles off the roadways. In October, a truck struck a low-lying Long Island Rail Road overpass in Westbury, prompting a move to raise the more than century-old structure by 2 ft.
The project involves installing over-height detector systems at 13 locations with a history of trucks improperly entering parkways, with the technology relaying an invisible beam set at a specific bridge clearance height for the area. An over-height vehicle would set off a warning message on a color message sign display, alerting the driver of impending bridge strikes ahead. A camera linked to a state traffic center would also record the incident, and police could then be dispatched to the scene.
Similar systems were installed on five parkways in the Hudson Valley in 2015, with 30% fewer bridge strikes on the Hutchinson River Parkway in 2016 than four years earlier. The New York State Department of Transportation in 2011 installed slightly different technology near a low railroad bridge near Syracuse, with the location experiencing a reduction in bridge hits from several per year to an average of one annually.
Source: The Drive