GLENVILLE — The notorious Glenridge Road underpass may have set a new record Monday, as three large vehicles hit it in four hours, police said.
The underside of the railroad bridge closest to the Alplaus Kill is not quite 11 feet above the surface of the road, and more than 100 trucks have hit it in the past several years.
Dozens or hundreds more have stopped just short of hitting it, and snarled traffic as police helped the drivers back away to a spot where they could turn around.
At 8 a.m. Monday, a Salvation Army truck sustained significant damage as it went under the bridge.
At 8:23 a.m., another truck driver tried to go through — despite the debris still on the pavement, the mangled truck parked up ahead and the nearby police car with the flashing lights. This truck was smaller, and only got wedged underneath, with less damage.
Finally, at noon, a large motorhome that was ever so slightly too tall passed under the bridge, scratching up the ventilation unit on its roof in the process.
“It’s like ‘Groundhog Day’ down there,” said Glenville Police Chief Stephen Janik, referring to the classic Bill Murray movie about a man doomed to relive the same day again and again.
“I don’t know if it’s a record,” he added. “I’m going to go out on a limb and say maybe it is. I know we’ve had two in a day, or two in a day and a turnaround.
“It’s a comedy of errors.”
So far, the crashes have left only damaged trucks and bruised egos, for the most part.
The only injury the chief is aware of was earlier this year when a motorist’s car was hit by chunks of metal ripped off an oncoming truck.
Nonetheless, each crash and each near-miss tie up town police officers, who must write a citation for the driver who ignored all the warning signs and direct motorists around the scene.
Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said the town is stuck cleaning up after the crashes but is powerless to take steps to prevent crashes.
Glenridge Road, aka State Route 914V, is owned by the state, not the town, and the state has not taken any steps beyond signs to limit crashes, Koetzle said, while Canadian Pacific refuses to allow its railroad bridge to be modified.
“It’s so frustrating,” he said. “We don’t have any power here.”
Almost all the oversize vehicles are coming west from Clifton Park when they hit the bridge, some of their drivers apparently relying on Google Maps or other route-mapping software that doesn’t alert them to the low clearance the way a commercial vehicle GPS system would, Koetzle said.
Janik has another theory: There’s a full-height bridge up the hill from the low bridge. Truckers may go through that and shrug off the warnings … even though there’s clear indication of a second, lower bridge up ahead. “I think there’s a false sense of security,” he said.
There already are abundant visual warnings about the low bridge — 14 roadside signs plus additional notices on the pavement and on the bridge itself — that simply aren’t working.
Koetzle would like to see the road closed to trucks, rather than be equipped with some of the laser-activated warning signs the state is considering.
The bridge sits in the districts of State Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, who on Monday lambasted the state Department of Transportation for not addressing the problem.
DOT spokesman Bryan Viggiani said via email:
“DOT is currently piloting technology-based over-height vehicle detection systems at several locations across the state. These pilots, to date, have proven effective in supplementing existing height restriction awareness and warning devices. DOT is currently exploring the appropriateness of such technology as well as other physical countermeasures to mitigate bridge strikes on Glenridge Road.”