Large commercial trucks have been getting stuck under a bridge that was rebuilt as part the state Department of Transportation’s $11.7 million reconstruction of Glenridge Road.
The damage can be seen in scrape marks that decorate the steel undersurface of the bridge, which has a clearance of 10 feet 11 inches and carries active railroad tracks.
“It happens all the time,” said Glenville police Lt. Stephen Janik.
The multiyear project involved adding a roundabout at Maple Avenue and Glenridge Road and widening a one-mile section of Glenridge Road from Maple Avenue to Route 146 to create 11-foot-wide travel lanes and 6-foot wide shoulders. The work widened the roads under two bridges on Glenridge, but did not change their heights.
Since the work was completed in September, three trucks have become temporarily lodged under the bridge near Alplaus Kill, Janik said.
“The issue is lack of attention by the drivers,” Janik said. “There’s signage — the state DOT has made it clear as to the height of that bridge.”
Most of the incidents involve trucks heading west into Glenville from Clifton Park as trucks heading east out of the town have the option to take a left on Hetcheltown Road just before the bridge, he said.
And while Janik said trucks became lodged under the bridge before the reconstruction project — “I think it’s relatively the same,” he said — town Supervisor Chris Koetzle said more trucks are trying to make it under the bridge because the road is much wider.
“You could barely get your car through there let alone a truck,” Koetzle said of the roadway before the reconstruction.
What used to be a quaint stone bridge over a one-way road that required a signal to control traffic was replaced with a wide-mouthed trestle over a wider, two-lane road with shoulders.
The widened road has improved traffic flow immensely but could also be why large trucks are trying to drive under the low bridge, he said.
Bryan Viggiani, a state DOT spokesman, said the department considered raising the bridge as part of the reconstruction project but it proved “cost prohibitive.”
To raise the bridge and accommodate the railroad tracks above, "two and possible three” other bridges would have to be raised, which would have added $15 million to $20 million to the total project cost, he said.
“It would have cost more than the job itself,” he said. “You can’t simply make it a bump. It has to go a long way out in both directions.”
A higher bridge would also invite more truck traffic to a residential road, Koetzle said.
“I don’t think there was an engineering mistake as much as it was by design,” he said.
Tying up traffic
Glenville police have responded six times to a situation where the driver of a large commercial vehicle went under the higher bridge just east and, upon seeing the lower bridge ahead, was forced to turn around. The higher bridge, which drivers approach as they head into the town of Glenville from the east, has a clearance of 15 feet 7 inches.
In those situations, police have stopped traffic before the higher bridge, in order to allow the truck to safely back out and turn around using Bruce Drive, Janik said. The 1⁄5-mile stretch of Glenridge Road between the two bridges offers little space to turn around, he said.
“It’s like the point of no return,” he said.
It happened Tuesday afternoon during rush hour, when traffic was stopped for 10 minutes as an officer helped the driver back out and turn around, he said.
Janik said police respond to those situations to prevent an accident, as drivers approaching the taller bridge from the east have limited visibility because they’re coming over a hill.
“There could be a terrible accident,” he said.
‘Plenty of signs’
Janik said GPS and Google Maps are directing truck drivers down a road that is not meant for big trucks. He said the bridges are marked with “plenty of signs” and drivers should take heed.
“They’re just following a route that gets them to their location the fastest way, and they concentrate on their GPS and they’re not concentrating on the signs,” he said.
Heading west into Glenville, drivers are met with two signs -- one indicating the taller bridge’s clearance and another announcing the next bridge’s lower clearance. There’s another 10-foot-11-inch clearance sign between the two bridges, and the low bridge is marked with a clearance sign and orange markers on both sides.
Viggiani said the signage is adequate.
“Truckers need to obey the posted signs and travel on the roads they’re supposed to be on,” he said. “If it’s something that continues to develop, we could look at different ways to perhaps sign it.”