Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of a $4.8 million over-height vehicle detection system on two New York City parkways. The infrared system identifies and alerts over-height vehicles illegally using the parkway to prevent the vehicles from striking low-clearance bridges, which are found on most parkways in New York. The system was installed at four locations on the Hutchinson River Parkway in the Bronx and one location on the Grand Central Parkway in Queens. Photos of the detectors are available here, here and here.
"This groundbreaking technology will improve traffic safety, enhance mobility, prevent delays and protect our highway infrastructure," Governor Cuomo said. "These roadways are key parts of New York City’s transportation system and these improvements will make them for more convenient, reliable and safer for all."
Large commercial trucks and tractor trailers are prohibited from entering parkways in New York because the roadways, built in the 1930s and 1940s, were designed for automobiles and have low bridge clearances, with some as low as seven feet. The detection systems, developed by the New York State Department of Transportation, are part of the state’s latest effort to keep commercial vehicles off parkways and improve roadway safety across the State. Bridge strikes can result in serious accidents, significant traffic delays and damage to the bridges.
Using infrared beams, the detection system identifies an over-height vehicle illegally using a parkway, captures the vehicle’s movements on video and then posts an alert message for the driver on an electronic variable message sign, enabling the driver to leave the highway before encountering a bridge. The data and video are also sent to the Department of Transportation’s Joint Traffic Management Center so that police can assist in getting a truck safely off the roadway, or mobilize quickly if an accident occurs.
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll said, "Governor Cuomo has made transportation a priority and investments like this are helping to modernize our highways and make them safer. The State Department of Transportation is continuing to work with the New York State Police, New York City Police Department and others to reduce bridge strikes and ensure that all motorists can get to where they need to go."
The new detection system has been installed at the following locations, which were identified as priority sites for detecting over-height vehicles:
Senator Jeff Klein said, "The damage from over-height vehicles striking our bridges is not only accidents and traffic delays, but repair costs for the State of New York. However, we now have a new way of combating these events thanks to this important investment in our infrastructure. These detectors will keep our bridges and roads safer and keep traffic moving, all the while ensuring that our infrastructure is structurally sound. I am especially excited to see this system put to work in the districts I represent in The Bronx."
Assemblyman Michael Simanowitz said, "The installation of these detectors is a welcome addition for the residents of Queens and all who utilize the Grand Central Parkway. It is no secret that traffic and congestion continues to be a major quality of life issue in our borough. This technology is an excellent example of the infrastructure upgrades we need to improve the efficiency and safety of our roadways."
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. said, "This system will undoubtedly make our roads safer and protect our vital infrastructure from unnecessary damage, and I congratulate Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Transportation on its completion."
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz said, "The installation of this new over-height vehicle detection system on a key section of the Grand Central Parkway will help prevent accidents, traffic delays and infrastructure damage. All drivers who use the Grand Central Parkway will benefit from the installation of this innovative traffic safety system. Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Department of Transportation, led by Commissioner Matthew J. Driscoll, deserve to be commended for spearheading this important safety initiative."
This project has received a Platinum Award by the American Council of Engineering Companies, an organization that honors excellence in the engineering field.
The New York State Department of Transportation has installed similar equipment at five locations on the Hutchinson River Parkway in Westchester County, three locations on the Northern State Parkway on Long Island and one location on the Onondaga Lake Parkway in Salina, near Syracuse.
Under the Governor’s direction, the New York State Department of Transportation has taken a series of steps to investigate and reduce the number of bridge strikes caused by commercial vehicles on parkways and highways. The New York State Department of Transportation has improved signage and road markings, installed flashing beacons and electronic variable message signs alerting truck drivers of travel and bridge height restrictions and improved mapping information available to truckers through GPS services, industry groups, brochures, and the 511NY travel information service.
The New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Police also lead a multi-state, inter-agency bridge hit task force, which shares information between state, local and private entities in the New York City metro region. As part of this effort, the New York State Department of Transportation has convened discussions with insurance companies, map providers, GPS manufacturers, and the trucking industry to collaborate on safety improvements.