After seeing 22 trucks collide with bridges on Westchester’s parkways this year, the New York Department of Transportation plans on trying out a new, high-tech system they hope will drastically reduce the number of low-bridge crashes.
NYDOT in the process of implementing “over-height detection systems” at five Hutchinson River Parkway entrance ramps as part of a $5 million program to warn truck drivers about to illegally drive onto the road, according to department spokeswoman Giana DiSarro.
With the new system, a too-tall vehicle would pass through an infrared beam which would then trigger an electronic message telling the driver to pull over and call the police for help. It also alerts the DOT traffic management center, where operators call the police as well.
“Much of the underground work for these installations has been completed, and the work is on schedule to have it up and running by the end of November,” DiSarro told The Journal News.
Three systems have already been installed on Long Island’s Northern State Parkway. The devices are currently being placed on the southbound ramp from Mamaroneck Avenue and all four ramps from Interstate 287. More are expected next year in New York City and on Long Island.
Last year, Westchester officials saw the number of low-brige crashes drop in half when crews painted “NO TRUCKS” and “LOW BRIDGE” directly on the asphalt on the Hutchison and Saw Mill River parkways. Now, they hope to lower that count drastically, if not eliminate the problem all together.
But not everyone agrees the infrared detection system is the best, most cost effective way to solve the issue. State Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti, D-Greenburgh, said he repeatedly suggested hight bars that would physically block the trucks, which would be cheaper and would stop the trucks sooner than the beam system.