GLENVILLE -- The state Department of Transportation will look into the number of times a low-clearance railroad bridge over Glenridge Road has been struck by trucks to see if more needs to be done to prevent such incidents.
More signage to warn truck drivers is one possibility, though local officials think there are already plenty of signs warning that the CP Rail bridge has clearance of only 10 feet, 11 inches.
"The safety of the traveling public is the top priority of the New York State Department of Transportation and we take the issue of bridge strikes very seriously," DOT spokesman Joseph Morrissey said.
The department's response follows a letter from state Sen. James Tedisco, R-Glenville, and Assemblywoman Mary Beth Walsh, R-Ballston, urging the department to take action after nearly 60 incidents in the last six years in which tractor-trailers struck the bridge while trying to fit under it. There have also been many near-misses, which town officials say have often required police assistance to turn the trucks around.
"We will review the letter in the context of previous mitigation efforts at this location and if appropriate, will consider an additional bridge strike mitigation project in the future," Morrissey said. "We are also actively evaluating new signage on the bridge and on roads leading up to this location."
The two local legislators wrote to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and state DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez last week, saying there have been 57 bridge strikes, and an additional 90 near-misses in recent years. The town of Glenville estimates the incidents have cost it $50,000 in police, fire and highway personnel response time.
They noted that the state recently completed a $1.8 million bridge strike prevention project in Westchester County, with money coming from a $25 million state bridge strike prevention fund created in this year's state budget. They said the Glenville situation calls for enhanced signage, electronic message signs, bridge lighting, communications improvements, and installation of an over-height detector.
Over-height detection systems, installed at some locations on parkways in Westchester, Nassau and Suffolk counties, use an infrared beam across the road at the bridge clearance height. If a vehicle breaks the beam, warning lights are activated.
"I've asked repeatedly for DOT to do something to enhance traffic safety at the Glenridge Road bridge overpass in Glenville and now that we've learned about this state bridge strike prevention fund, it's time for the state to take action to potentially save lives," said Tedisco, who twice in recent months has arrived personally on the scene of a strike.
"This significant number of incidents is not only costing to taxpayers, but also a public safety concern for those passing through the heavily trafficked area between Glenville and Clifton Park," Walsh said.
The recent letter follows a previous letter on the issue sent to Dominguez last month that was signed by Tedisco and Glenville Town Supervisor Chris Koetzle.
The bridge strikes are also a problem for CP Rail, which must halt rail traffic until an inspector determines the bridge remains sound. Preventing strikes is up to local authorities, according to the railroad.
"Motorists are responsible for obeying rules and signs on roadways," CP Rail spokesman Andy Cummings said last month. "CP immediately halts train traffic when it receives a report of a vehicle making contact with a railroad bridge. Traffic resumes only after a railroad bridge inspector verifies it’s safe."