EDITORIAL: Physical alert system needed now at Glenville bridge

The scene Monday

The scene Monday

For crying out loud. Just put up the plastic chain and gouge out some rumble strips.

For the 12th time this year and about the 100th time since it was built, a large truck has struck the train bridge over Glenridge Road in Glenville because the bridge was too low for a truck that was too tall.

Despite many lights and warning signs along both sides of the overpass, truck drivers continue to hit it, making it very clear to everyone that the solutions they’ve tried have failed to address the problem.

Almost every time, the crash has led to significant damage to the truck. Each time, the collision closes the roadway for a few hours while crews clean up the mess and get the truck out of traffic. Only once has someone been injured.

But one day, the luck will run out. Then either the truck driver or a motorist traveling in either direction at the same time the bridge is struck will be injured or killed. It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. Yet state officials keep dragging their feet with a solution.

Yes, they’ve added lighted signs and put in a turnaround area east of the bridge. But apparently, you could light up the bridge approach with Clark Griswold’s Christmas decorations and drivers would still hit it.

That’s because drivers are paying attention to their GPS monitors and not the signs, the lights, the road or the bridge. That’s what happened earlier this week when a driver carrying paper products did the sardine-can-dance with the span.

You can keep ticketing them. But they’re still going to do it. History has proven that.

The state plans to install a laser detection system near the bridge, but not until spring. At an average of one strike per month, we’re talking at least four or five more crashes in the meantime.

Some kind of physical alert system, something that literally shakes drivers out of their malaise and makes them pay attention to the road and the warning signs is what’s needed.

The cheapest and simplest solution would be to string a light chain or plastic strips across the road that strike the top of trucks at about the height of the bridge approach. That would force drivers to look up and pay attention to the signs.

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Rumble strips, those grooves carved into roads to keep drivers within their lanes and to alert them to toll areas and construction areas, would also get truck drivers’ attention.

Even if the state sets up an alternative truck route so drivers of big trucks would be prohibited from using Glenridge Road as a shortcut from the Northway to the Thruway, some kind of physical alert will still be needed for those who ignore that warning.

Something needs to be done now. Something effective. Something they can put up fast.

As long as the state keeps ignoring or putting off potential solutions, this is going to keep happening.

And one day, the result is going to be tragic.

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Categories: Editorial, Opinion, Scotia Glenville

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