State Budget Includes $25 Million for Bridge Strike Prevention on State Highways
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of a $1.8 million project to mitigate bridge strikes on the King Street Bridge over the Hutchison River Parkway in the towns of Harrison and Rye, Westchester County. The project installed an over-height vehicle detection system and additional warnings on the low bridge, which has been struck by vehicles more than any other in the state - 24 times last year and a total of 130 times from 2008 to 2018.
"Bridge strikes aren't just dangerous for everyone who uses our highways - they're also a nuisance for drivers who get stuck in traffic as a result," Governor Cuomo said. "We are continuing to take aggressive action to cut down on bridge strikes with the help of technology and public education, and these latest enhancements in Westchester County will keep traffic flowing and improve public safety."
Governor Cuomo included $25 million in this year's state budget for bridge strike prevention enhancements statewide. There have been more than 576 bridge strikes on New York State highways since 2015, causing injuries, traffic delays and damage to bridge and highway infrastructure. The state's historic parkways, most of which ban commercial vehicles, are particularly vulnerable because of their low bridges.
The King Street Bridge previously had warning devices on it, but this latest project enhanced them with signs, electronic variable message signs, bridge lighting and communications upgrades connected to the Hudson Valley Traffic Management Center and Westchester County Police Department. The two agencies can help errant trucks get off the parkway safely before they hit the bridge.
The project also installed two over-height vehicle detectors at Exits 26 and 29 of the Hutchinson River Parkway, in advance of the bridge. The detection system includes receiver sensors mounted on either side of the Hutchinson River Parkway with an infrared transmitter in advance of the King Street Bridge, creating an infrared beam over the road. When an over-height vehicle breaks the beam, the receiver sends a signal and activates a warning message alert on a sign, notifying the driver to exit the parkway immediately.
This is in addition to two electronic Portable Variable Message Signs NYSDOT deployed in 2014 on the approaches to the King Street Bridge, displaying very visible "TRUCKS MUST EXIT NOW!" warnings. Technology was also installed on the bridge that actively sends warnings to truck drivers potentially entering the Parkway through their CB radios. The warning systems enhance safety through a 3E approach, a combination of engineering, education and enforcement strategies.
Over-height detection systems were installed on five parkways in the Hudson Valley in 2015, including the Hutchinson River Parkway. The system has prevented thousands of over-height buses, box trucks and tractor trailers from hitting low bridges. NYSDOT also has over-height vehicle detectors at 16 locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties.
Since 2013, the New York State Department of Transportation has participated in a regional Bridge Strike Task Force in the Hudson Valley. Because of this multi-agency effort, NYSDOT added new signage and pavement markings along the Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River, Cross County and Sprain Brook parkways and ramp entrances. Overhead signs along entrance ramps from I-287/Westchester Avenue to the Hutchinson River Parkway also have truck prohibition decals.
Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, "The cutting-edge technology installed as part of this project will greatly enhance safety at the King Street Bridge, preventing bridge strikes by alerting drivers to exit the Parkway if their vehicle is too tall and immediately notifying police that assistance is needed. With these improvements and plans for additional locations, Governor Cuomo is continuing extensive efforts to curtail bridge strikes, enhance the safety and reliability of our busy thoroughfares and help travelers reach their destinations without delay."
Senator Shelley Mayer said, "I applaud the completion of this critically important effort to address bridge strikes in Westchester here at the King Street Bridge over the Hutchinson River Parkway in Harrison and Rye and throughout Westchester County. With these new sensors, signs, lighting and communication upgrades, I am confident that finally we will reduce the incidence of bridge strikes at King Street and elsewhere. Thank you to County Executive Latimer, who has led the charge on this issue, and to Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Transportation for their leadership and partnership in funding and implementing these needed changes. This was sorely needed, and is a tremendous step forward."
Assembly Member Steve Otis said, "Governor Cuomo and NYS DOT have been very responsive to bringing the most up-to-date technology to the King Street bridge and other locations around the state. We need to redouble our efforts to educate renters and drivers of trucks about bridge height safety. State, county and local officials are united in the cause of promoting better public awareness on this safety issue."
Assembly Member David Buchwald said, "I'm pleased the Department of Transportation is deploying the latest in high tech warning systems to solve this chronic problem. With GPS often blamed for directing over-height trucks onto the Hutchinson River Parkway, it's good to know we can counter this with new electronic height detectors and alert systems to reduce bridge strikes and the traffic jams they create."
Westchester County Executive George Latimer said, "On any given night, nobody knows what is on any given truck that may come across this bridge. If a truck hits it, breaks apart, and is carrying any kind of chemical or dangerous product, that means on any given night we could be dealing with the evacuation of the residential population in the surrounding area. This is a legitimate issue so we have taken legitimate efforts to try and tackle this. We are very happy that Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Department of Transportation has seen this as a priority and is here to help us with it."
Motorists are reminded that fines are doubled for speeding in work zones. In accordance with the Work Zone Safety Act of 2005, convictions of two or more speeding violations in a work zone could result in the suspension of an individual's driver's license.