GLENVILLE — The driver of a Sysco box truck sheared the top off the vehicle early Thursday morning in an attempt to drive under the Glenridge Road Bridge.
The latest crash happened almost exactly a week after officials turned on a set of yellow flashing lights along with a sign indicating the lower bridge ahead, an effort to reduce repeated strikes at the bridge.
It also marks the latest in a long line of trucks hitting the bridge, including one that hit just Jan. 17.
Thursday morning’s incident happened at 7:43. The driver told The Daily Gazette at the scene that he was traveling on Glenridge Road from Clifton Park and became confused because there are two bridges on the road. The driver would not provide his name.
Police identified the driver as Tim Parker, 34, of Schenectady.
He was ticketed for failing to obey a traffic control device and for failure to obey the height limit. The second citation has a minimum fine of $250 and maximum of $500, said Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
The first bridge has a clearance height of 15 feet, 7 inches. The bridge known for being commonly struck only has a clearance height almost five feet lower, at 10 feet, 11 inches.
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The Sysco truck was 12 feet, six inches, Parker said.
“There’s an illusion for these drivers that once they make it through the first one they’re good to go,” said Police Chief Stephen Janik.
However, there are a total of 14 signs prior to reaching the bridge to indicate it’s height.
“In the westbound direction alone, which is the direction of travel of the majority of bridge strikes, there are nine advance signs over approximately three-quarter of a mile warning of the height of the bridge,” according to a November press release from the state Department of Transportation regarding the bridge.
The new warning lights are located just near the roundabout on Glenridge Road, about 700 feet from the bridge, and at the intersection of Routes 146 and 146a.
The driver said he saw the height for the first bridge but did not realize the height of the second bridge until he was upon it. He thought he could just fit under it and indicated he had about an inch between the top of the truck and the bottom of the bridge until he was just coming from underneath it.
“Lesson learned,” he said, noting he’s not from the area and typically does not drive the route.
Sysco sent employees down shortly after the accident to inspect the truck and have someone else drive it away from the area.
He said his GPS took him down the road.
Koetzle said the town has been trying everything it can to prevent the strikes.
“Unfortunately, there is no fix for simple carelessness,” he said. “As I have advocated for so long, there are only two solutions; close the road to truck traffic or raise the bridge. Outside of that, these strikes are never going to stop completely. All the state is doing now is trying to mitigate the strikes the best they can.”
Koetzle said Canadian Pacific Railway owns the bridge, so they would have complete authority over raising the height of it. The state owns the road and would have authority over barring trucks from going down it.
A Canadian Pacific spokesperson issued a statement later Thursday indicating that the bridge had been inspected and cleared to resume rail traffic.
“The CP rail line over Glenridge Road is an active rail corridor for freight and passenger trains,” the Canadian Pacific statement continued. “Motorists are responsible for obeying road signs and traffic laws. CP has asked NYSDOT for permits to temporarily close lanes to reinforce the bridge and install high-visibility beams that could prevent collisions. NYSDOT has denied CP’s request to install these beams. If NYSDOT wants to raise clearances for motorists on Glenridge Road, CP is willing to work with the agency to accommodate the necessary work.”
In November the state’s Department of Transportation unveiled plans to deter truckers from crashing into the bridge using a series of electronic detection devices that would trigger a warning, letting drivers know a crash is imminent whenever a vehicle that exceeds the bridge’s low height passes through a sensor.
A turnaround for large trucks would also be created under the plans, which are currently in development.
The project is expected to be completed sometime next year.
DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez had previously said there is an “alarming trend” of not only distracted drivers but truckers using unauthorized GPS. She said the department is taking various actions to mitigate bridge strikes.
“These short- and long-term actions include enhanced warning devices that will provide clear and unmistakable messaging to operators of overheight vehicles that their vehicle is too tall to fit under the bridge and a mechanism for overheight trucks to reroute,” she said in the November release. “While these mitigation measures have proven to be successful in other locations throughout New York, the fact remains that bridge strikes are 100 percent preventable. I can’t stress enough that it is incumbent upon all drivers to operate their vehicles in a safe manner, and to pay attention and obey the multiple signs that are already in place at this location.”
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