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State Parkways Will Get $25M For Bridge Strike Prevention

New York is pledging $25 million to help prevent bridge strikes. Photo Credit: Contributed
New York is pledging $25 million to help prevent bridge strikes. Photo Credit: Google Maps

New York is turning to technology in an effort to curtail tractor-trailers from striking low-hanging overpasses on state parkways.

Since 2015, there have been 576 bridge strikes on New York State highways, causing injuries, traffic delays and damage to overpasses, which often require repairs. In response, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that his Executive Budget includes $25 million to reduce the number of strikes statewide.

Cuomo said that the money will be earmarked for “new state-of-the-art technologies and automated devices -- including dual infrared beams, audible bells, and warning signs with flashing beacons -- to warn drivers of immediate danger.”

"This low bridge warning system will prevent bridge hits before they happen, enhancing safety for the thousands of commuters and residents who travel the State's Parkways every day,” New York State Department of Transportation acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas stated.

While sending warnings directly to commercial vehicle operators, the new tech would also push notifications to law enforcement agencies in the area. There will also be a “significant” increase in penalties for drivers who disobey the height warning devices, which are currently being tested in the Hudson Valley.

According to Cuomo, 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 prohibited from driving on parkways.

“Bridge strikes are not only a public safety concern, but also cause significant delays on high-traffic parkways across New York,” the governor said. “The State has taken aggressive action in recent years to reduce the frequency of these crashes including installing new over-height detectors and warning signs on parkways, but more needs to be done. This proposed funding will bolster our efforts to curb bridge strikes and enhance the safety and reliability of critical highways across the state." 

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