GLENVILLE — The railroad company that owns the Glenridge Road bridge will be placing crash bars just before the bridge, which has been struck repeatedly over the years due to its low height clearance.
“I know holy cow,” town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said on Wednesday. “After DOT [Department of Transportation] says you can’t install crash bars, CP Rail is going to install crash bars.” However, it’s not clear the railroad has the right to add the bars to the state road.
Koetzle said the company indicated the bridge cannot take another hit.
The announcement came during a public hearing held at a Town Board meeting Wednesday. The Town Board and voted unanimously to amend the town vehicle and traffic law to fine anyone who hits the bridge $450 or imprison them for no more than 15 days.
Fine money would be saved for a technology solution, like a laser-sensor system to alert drivers their vehicle won’t fit under the bridge.
The bridge’s 10-foot, 11-inch clearance is too low for many commercial trucks. Big rigs coming off the Northway and headed toward Glenville Center sometimes hit it, but many who hit it are non-professional drivers operating rental trucks, Glenville police have said. The crashes cause damage to the truck and sometimes the bridge, and backs up traffic until the truck can be removed.
While no residents spoke during the public hearing on revising the law, residents have expressed their thoughts on the bridge issue.
Scotia resident Jack Ham said he supports the modification to the law. “I would support fines and any other type of electronic signs,” he said.
He also said the responsibility of avoiding the bridge is on the drivers and their ability to know their routes.
Steven Anderson said this action would only deter businesses from opening on the road. He said trucks that deliver on the road may become hesitant to for fear of hitting the bridge and being fined.
“It’s not conducive to having a business environment,” Anderson said.
Town Board member Mike Godlewski said the town should do anything it can to stop trucks from hitting the bridge.
“We’re at a point where no idea is a bad idea,” Godlewski said, noting that the town’s hands are tied though because the state owns the road and the rail company owns the bridge.
Koetzle has pushed for an alternate truck route that would keep trucks between the Northway and Glenville Center off Glenridge Road entirely. He plans to write municipalities that would need to support the route — the towns of Clifton Park and Niskayuna, city of Schenectady and Saratoga and Schenectady counties — seeking support for the idea.
Koetzle also said the DOT is actively considering installation of a laser-activated warning system or similar measures.
But the new move by the railroad company is raising concerns and questions among town officials. Koetzle said it is unclear whether the railroad company will need a state permit to install the steel crash bars since it is a state highway and therefore under the state’s jurisdiction. The other problem, Koetzle said, is that the crash bars will be located close to the bridge.
“I question if they will actually be effective since they will be so close to the bridge,” he said.
Board member Gina Wierzbowski said maybe the bars will be a visual cue to someone who is driving that they should stop heading in that direction.