The press release issued by the state Department of Transportation last week announcing its solutions for all those trucks striking the Glenridge Road train bridge is great … except for four numbers.
After years of playing the fiddle while too-tall tractor-trailers have sardine-canned under the 10-foot-11-inch overpass on average of about once a month (three times on one day this month already), the DOT is rushing to the rescue with a plan that includes construction of an electronic alert system for truckers and a turnaround area.
Completion date: 2023.
It’s nice they’re finally paying attention to the problem. Welcome aboard.
Everyone from the town supervisor to state legislators to police to our editorial board to ordinary citizens have been screaming for a legitimate solution forever.
Some of the proposed solutions are common-sense ideas, such as stringing a simple chain or plastic sign across the highway to alert drivers to the impending low bridge. (“If you hit this sign, you’ll hit that bridge.”)
Others have included installing rumble strips to alert drivers and diverting commercial traffic to other routes.
Others have suggested lowering Glenridge Road underneath the overpass or raising the train bridge itself — both expensive and probably not feasible solutions.
Up until now, the DOT’s solution to this vexing problem has been putting up more warning signs (14 in both directions so far) and painting the pavement. We’ve seen how effective that’s been.
The DOT’s immediate new solution is to install flashing lights on the existing signs next month, on the assumption that drivers will now actually notice the signs they so far haven’t bothered to read. Worth a shot, right?
The big news in the press release was the state-of-the art electronic detection and active warning system, which will trigger flashing lights and a road sign telling the driver their truck is too tall.
The DOT is also going to install a turnaround area, basically a paved area that trucks can use to make a U-turn before they strike the bridge. This will take time, apparently, because of the time needed for land acquisition and construction. Again, everyone knew that would be needed. What’s taken so long?
These improvements could significantly reduce bridge strikes.
But what about in the meantime? What happens all of next year?
Is the DOT willing to let another year go by allowing truck drivers to crash into the bridge without supplementary warning?
Will it really take more than a year to construct and install two of these alert devices. Will it really take a year to negotiate rights-of-way and build the equivalent of a small parking lot to use as a turnaround?
And what about announcing other potential solutions, like restricting commercial traffic?
This bridge is a fatal accident waiting to happen. It might be sooner than later.
The DOT’s solution is welcome. But 2023?
This situation has been going on too long to wait another year.
We encourage the DOT to speed up its timeline before it’s too late.