GLENVILLE — The state Department of Transportation next week will begin installing a height detection system designed to alert inattentive truck drivers to the low rail bridge that passes over Glenridge Road.
Supervisor Chris Koetzle on Monday confirmed work to install the detection system will begin on March 13 and run through August. Signs in proximity of the bridge appeared in recent days alerting motorists to the impending construction. The town is alerting residents to use caution when passing through the area and to be aware of single-lane closures at times.
“We’re cautiously optimistic,” he said.
The state announced plans for the detection system in 2021 as part of a $1.9 million plan to prevent trucks from striking the 10-foot, 11-inch Canadian Pacific Railway-owned bridge that has been struck more than 100 times in recent years.
Last year, the state installed a turnaround just before the bridge, giving tractor-trailer drivers who missed the 14 “low bridge” signs leading up to the structure a place to safely reroute their journey. A series of flashing warning signs were also installed at the time, though the bridge has been hit on several occasions since the work was completed.
The new system will consist of a series of height sensors that will trip whenever a vehicle too tall to pass under the bridge drives through. The system will activate a pair of electronic messaging boards warning the driver that a crash is imminent. A series of closed circuit cameras will also be installed so the state can monitor the bridge and deploy resources in the event of a strike, Koetzle said.
Koetzle has long criticized the state for failing to take actions to prevent bridge strikes, raising concerns about safety and inconveniences to local residents passing through the area. The road is typically closed for hours following a strike, requiring the town to deploy resources to direct traffic and clean up the roadway.
He has long advocated for the state to close the road to truck traffic and install a series of traffic measures that would prevent large vehicles from passing through — an idea the state has rejected.
The town, in recent years, passed a law imposing a fine for drivers who strike the bridge, which is often the result of drivers using GPS but not a commercial one, which would not send them on that path.
Koetzle said the turnaround installed last year has prevented bridge strikes — something he has witnessed on several occasions — but noted traffic was still backed up in order to allow the driver to turn the vehicle around.
He said it’s unlikely that the new system will prevent strikes entirely, but believes it will further mitigate the crashes.
“I’m hoping this additional measure will go that much further and mitigate crashes even more,” Koetzle said. “I don’t think anything they deploy will completely eliminate the strikes, but I think if we can mitigate it even further, that would be a positive.”
The state’s Department of Transportation did not return a request seeking comment.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: [email protected] or by calling 518-395-3120.