Monday, November 9, 2020

Governor Cuomo Announces New Efforts to Increase Highway Safety and Prevent Low-Bridge Strikes by Trucks

 

$3.8 Million Bridge Replacement in Albany County Includes Safety Upgrades Such as Higher Clearance for Highway Traffic and Widened Bridge Shoulders

Project Completed Within Budget and One Month Ahead of Schedule

Governor Also Launches Enforcement and Education Campaign to Prevent Trucks From Striking Low Bridges

 Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of the $3.8 million bridge replacement project of the Old State Road Bridge over the NYS Thruway (I-90) in Albany County. The project, which began in March, was completed within budget and a month ahead of schedule for the approximately 5,300 vehicles which utilize the Old State Road Bridge each day. Since 2016, the Thruway Authority's capital program has supported the replacement or rehabilitation of 133 bridges across its 570-mile system.

Additionally, to prevent future bridge strikes, the Governor directed the New York State Police, the New York State Department of Transportation, and the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee to launch a collaborative enforcement and education effort that will take place from Monday, November 9, through Sunday, November 15. New York State averages about 220 bridge strikes per year, resulting in the potential for injury for the truck driver and nearby motorists, costly repairs to the bridge itself, and substantial traffic disruptions. There have been more than 1,100 bridge strikes on New York roadways since 2015.

"While maintaining strong, safe transportation infrastructure is critical for keeping our roadways safe, it's also an important piece in growing local economies and this is why New York has made the strengthening of bridges and roadways a top priority," Governor Cuomo said. "Not only does the new Old State Road Bridge improve the safety and reliability of the Thruway, but by increasing its clearance, we are helping prevent troublesome traffic delays which impact travel and commerce. When you combine this progress along with our new enforcement and education initiative, New York is taking a proactive approach towards improving safety for all those who travel our roads." 

The overpass bridge, located between Exit 24 (Albany - I-87) and Exit 25 (Schenectady - I-890), had been subject to numerous over-height truck hits throughout the past several years causing traffic disruptions on the Thruway mainline. The new bridge height will prevent similar incidents in the future with an increased clearance of 16 feet, 6 inches for traffic traveling on the NYS Thruway (I-90). 

The bridge was constructed using 260,000 pounds of American-made structural steel and its new driving surface and approaches utilized 1,000 cubic yards of concrete, as well as 1,000 tons of asphalt. To further strengthen safety, wider travel lanes and shoulders, and new safety guiderails were implemented. 

DMV Commissioner and Chair of the Governor's Traffic Safety Committee Mark J.F. Schroeder, said, "Bridge strikes not only tie up traffic and damage vehicles, but they can also compromise the safety of our infrastructure. We support the efforts of our partners in law enforcement and at DOT and are committed to educating drivers about how to safely navigate New York's bridges and tunnels."

Since 2013, the New York State Department of Transportation has participated in a regional Bridge Strike Task Force in the Hudson Valley. Because of this multi-agency effort, NYSDOT added new signage and pavement markings along the Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River, Cross County and Sprain Brook parkways and ramp entrances.  Over-height vehicle detection systems have been installed at multiple locations across New York State. `

New fines and penalties for those driving commercial vehicles on New York State parkways went into effect September 3, 2020.  Penalties for commercial vehicles on parkways are broken down by weight class, and there are also penalties for over-height vehicles.  The maximum fines and penalties are as follows:

Less than 10,000 pounds:

  • First violation - $250 and/or 15 days in jail
  • Second violation within 18 months - $500 and/or 45 days in jail
  • Third or subsequent violation within 18 months - $750 and/or 90 days in jail

Between 10,000 and 26,000 pounds:

  • First violation - $350 and/or 15 days in jail
  • Second violation within 18 months - $700 and/or 45 days in jail
  • Third or subsequent violation within 18 months - $1,000 and/or 90 days

 Over 26,000 pounds:

  • First violation - $700 and/or 15 days in jail
  • Second violation within 18 months - $1,500 and/or 45 days in jail
  • Third or subsequent violation within 18 months - $2,000 and/or 90 days in jail

New fines and penalties for over height vehicles are as follows:

  • First offense - $1,000 and/or 30 days in jail

Second or subsequent offense - $2,000 and/or 60 days in jail

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