New York State expands over-height vehicle detection program to prevent bridge strikes


New York State Governor, Andrew M Cuomo has announced the installation of new technology that will help stop over-height vehicles from entering Long Island parkways in order to prevent dangerous bridge strikes on low overpasses.

New York State parkways traditionally have bridges that are lower than the standard legal bridge clearance. Commercial vehicles, school buses, tractor trailers and other tall vehicles are prohibited from driving on parkways. The new US$4.3m project involves installing over-height vehicle detectors at 13 locations in Nassau and Suffolk counties where trucks have been known to improperly enter parkways. Detectors at the top of a ramp will relay an invisible beam that is set at a specific bridge clearance height for the area. An over-height vehicle entering would break the beam, triggering a warning message on a full color LED variable message sign (VMS), which will indicate that the vehicle is over-height and alerts the driver of impending bridge strikes ahead. A camera linked to the New York State Department of Transportation’s (NYSDOT) regional traffic management center will record the incident.

NYSDOT crews have already deployed the technology at five sites throughout November, and an additional eight truck detectors are expected to be completed by spring 2018. NYSDOT installed a slightly different system in 2011 along the Onondaga Lake Parkway in Salina to prevent vehicles from striking a low railroad bridge. Over-height detector systems were then installed on three other Long Island locations in 2014, and similar systems were installed on five parkways in the Hudson Valley in 2015. In 2016 there were 30% fewer bridge strikes on the Hutchinson River Parkway than there were in 2012. The systems have already prevented thousands of over-height vehicles from hitting low bridges along the state’s parkways.

“Every bridge strike is not only a danger to the motorists and passengers involved, but also exacerbates the very serious traffic problems that Long Islanders experience every day, explained Cuomo. “With the installation of these detectors, we are moving this region’s parkways into the 21st century, with state-of-the-art technology designed to prevent these bridge strikes, and improve the safety and reliability of these vital roadways.”

NYSDOT acting commissioner, Paul A Karas, commented, “Safety is our top priority and we strive to utilize modern technology to keep our roads safe for all users. Preventing trucks from entering the parkways before striking a low bridge will improve safety for Long Islanders for many years to come.”

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Tom has edited Traffic Technology International (TTi) magazine and its Traffic Technology Today website since May 2014. During his time at the title, he has interviewed some of the top transportation chiefs at public agencies around the world as well as CEOs of leading multinationals and ground-breaking start-ups. Tom's earlier career saw him working on some the UK's leading consumer magazine titles. He has a law degree from the London School of Economics (LSE).