GLENVILLE — The state Department of Transportation on Tuesday began construction on a truck turnaround near the Glenridge Road rail bridge as a part of larger plan to reduce the number of trucks striking the bridge.
Plans for the turnaround were announced last year as part of a plan to reduce the number of strikes to the 10-foot, 11-inch bridge owned by Canadian Pacific Railway. Plans also call for installing an electronic detection and warning system next year that activates every time a vehicle that is too tall passes by.
“Safety is always the top priority of the state Department of Transportation and we are working to do all we can to help prevent the all-too-common occurrence of trucks striking the Glenridge Road overpass, which creates a hazardous situation for motorists and causes needless traffic delays,” DOT Commissioner Therese Dominguez said in a released statement.
Construction on the turnaround comes after years of calls by local and state officials, as well as residents, for the state to do something to reduce the number of bridge strikes, which create a safety hazard for motorists and hours-long road closures.
In many cases, truck operators relying on non-commercial GPS systems are responsible for striking the bridge because the systems don’t flag the low clearance.
Under the state’s plan, a turnaround approximately 500 feet east of the overpass will be constructed on both sides of the roadway for vehicles traveling westbound — the direction a majority of the vehicles that strike the bridge are traveling, according to DOT.
Construction on the turnaround is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
Flashing beacons were installed in advance of the bridge in both directions in January as a supplement to the 14 signs already in place, including nine signs in the westbound direction over a three-quarter-mile stretch of roadway.
In addition, an active warning system will also be installed. The system is currently being designed and construction is expected to begin sometime next year, according to DOT.
Plans call for installing two sets of detectors with two electronic message boards in the westbound direction and one set of each in the eastbound direction.
The detectors will trip whenever an over-height vehicle passes through, which will cause an electronic message board to display a warning that the vehicle is too tall to pass under the bridge and send an alert message to DOT”s Transportation Management System.
Glenville Supervisor Chris Koetzle said he is “ cautiously optimistic” about the improvements.
“I don’t think it’s going to be the cure-all, but if it helps stop one hit, I think it’s beneficial,” he said.
Koetzle added that the town was able to work with the state to come up with a design that would be beneficial to local residents, including plans for a parking lot near the turnaround that will allow residents to access the nearby nature preserve.
“There’s some positives here besides just the prevention aspect,” he said.
The turnaround at Glenridge Road is one of a series of infrastructure projects the town has planned.
Plans are also in the works to improve pedestrian and cycling safety along Freeman’s Bridge Road that will tie into a 4-mile river loop trail that will connect Mohawk Harbor with Glenville and Scotia.
The state last week announced $1.4 million in funding to construct sidewalks on the east side of the road from the Water’s Edge Lighthouse restaurant up to the Thomas Corners Firehouse. The sidewalk has yet to be designed and Koetzle said he doesn’t expect construction to begin for at least two years.
On the opposite side of Freeman’s Bridge Road, the town is waiting for National Grid to relocate several utility poles in order to construct a multi-use trail that will tie into existing trails in Schenectady and Scotia. The project was supposed to break ground last year but has been delayed pending National Grid action.
The trail is expected to cost $1.8 million, with the state covering 80% of the costs.
“People are starting to see a very large network of pedestrian connectivity, and not just in Glenville,” Koetzle said. “It’s connecting now into Scotia and Schenectady, and now it’s starting to connect into other communities.”
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.
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Categories: News, Schenectady County, Scotia Glenville