It happened again on Monday — an 18-wheel tractor-trailer tried getting under the Glenridge Road railroad bridge.
As usual, it failed, causing an incident that backed up traffic.
Large commercial trucks lose when they try to get under the 10-feet, 11-inch bridge.
The opening was widened three years ago, making it for the first time wide enough to handle trucks, but the long-standing bridge height wasn’t changed. Despite warning signs, trucks strike the bridge bottom several times a year.
“It’s so frustrating,” said Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle, who was caught in the traffic slowdown around the accident, which occurred a little before 1 p.m. “I just don’t understand it. I’ve heard it attributed to trucks using GPS.”
In Monday’s incident, a truck belonging to Stevens Transport of Dallas, Texas, hit the bridge at low speed, its driver apparently having recognized there was going to be a problem. The driver’s name wasn’t available.
There have been other incidents in which trucks suffered severe damage to their tops when going under the bridge.
“It’s happened too many times,” Koetzle said. “I’ve been on the phone with the railroad before and I’ll be on the phone with them again tomorrow. There has to be something more that can be done.”
State Department of Transportation spokesman Bryan Viggiani said a bridge inspector was dispatched, as is routine when such incidents occur, and Canadian Pacific Railroad will also do an inspection to be sure the bridge remains safe for use.
Viggiani said there are proper warnings in place on the road, if truckers heed them. “The road is properly and visibly signed to warn truck drivers, and last year we painted a warning on the road itself,” he said. “The bottom line is truckers need to follow established truck routes and avoid routes where they’re not allowed.”
The Glenridge Road improvement project completed by DOT in 2013 at a cost of $11.7 million didn’t raise the bridge because it would have cost $15 million to $20 million, Viggiani said. The roadway couldn’t be lowered because of the potential for the Alplaus Kill to flood it. He also noted that local residents didn’t want the height changed, fearing Glenridge could become a commercial truck route.
Koetzle said there’s no proof he’s aware of that more truck drivers want to go that way because of recent commercial development in the Mayfair area, but it’s a plausible reason, since it would be the most direct route from the Adirondack Northway.
Authorities said last winter that there have been about 20 incidents since the rebuilt road opened in 2013, despite the long-standing restrictions.
“It’s never been a way trucks can go,” Viggiani said. “We think it’s signed properly and the pavement is marked properly.”
Reach Gazette reporter Stephen Williams can be reached at 395-3086, [email protected] or @gazettesteve on Twitter.