Governor Cuomo Announces Testing of Over-Height Vehicle Detection Systems on Long Island

High-Visibility, High-Tech System Designed by State DOT to Prevent Bridge Hits by Over-Height Vehicles that Illegally Enter State Parkways.

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Long Island, NY - May 14, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that construction is nearing completion on a project that will test infrared over-height vehicle detection systems at three different entrances to the Northern State Parkway in Long Island. The systems, which were developed by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT), are designed to prevent commercial trucks from entering the Parkway and striking low bridges. Large commercial trucks and tractor trailers are prohibited from entering parkways in New York State because the roadways, which were built in the 1930s and 1940s, were designed for cars alone and have low bridge clearances – some as low as seven feet.

The detection systems are also being expanded to locations on the Southern State Parkway on Long Island, and parkways in New York City and Westchester County as part of a $5 million pilot program approved by Governor Cuomo and the New York State Legislature.

“With this innovative technology, New York State is enhancing traffic safety, protecting our highway infrastructure and helping to save lives,” Governor Cuomo said. “Accidents involving over-height vehicles and our bridges are dangerous and can cause significant disruption to other drivers, which is why our administration is getting out in front of the problem with this new detection system. We will continue to work with local governments, truckers, GPS providers and law enforcement to stop bridge strikes and make our roads safer for everyone who travels them.”

The systems are being installed at the following locations, which were identified as entry points for over-height vehicles:

  • NY Route 106/107 north ramp to Northern State Parkway westbound in Hicksville;
  • NY 135/Oyster Bay Expressway north ramp to the Northern State Parkway west in Plainview;
  • Long Island Expressway east Exit 38 ramp to Northern State Parkway east in Roslyn Heights.

The detection systems use infrared beams to identify over-height commercial vehicles illegally entering the parkway ramps, which then triggers large and vibrant electronic message signs that instruct drivers to pull over and call New York State Police for assistance. The systems automatically send an alert to operators at NYSDOT’s INFORM Traffic Management Center, which will also notify the State Police, so they can assist in getting the trucks off the ramps and roadways safely. The systems include closed-circuit cameras that will allow INFORM operators to monitor each detector.

Additional installations will enhance the system’s monitoring of the Northern State and Southern State parkways in Long Island, as well as the Hutchinson River and Grand Central parkways in New York City. Work on those locations is expected next year.

Later this year, work will start to install systems at two interchanges on the Hutchinson River Parkway (HRP): The Mamaroneck Avenue ramp southbound onto the HRP; and the four ramps from I-287/Westchester Avenue onto the HRP.

NYSDOT Commissioner Joan McDonald said, “Safety is our top priority and we are committed to using innovative techniques, enforcement and public outreach to eliminate bridge hits on our parkways. Governor Cuomo’s initiatives promote the safety and convenience of drivers, helping to keep traffic moving, support economic development and make our roadways even safer.”

Senator Joe Robach said, “Our highways and bridges play an important role in the quality of life for residents and visitors of our state. By utilizing this modern technology, we can provide improved traffic safety for travelers and reduce the number of dangerous bridge hits. I am pleased to see Governor Cuomo has taken this step towards enhancing safety for drivers and pedestrians alike.”

Senator Carl L. Marcellino “As a State, we have a responsibility to keep our roads safe for every person who travels throughout New York. This impressive overhead detection technology will help prevent bridge strike tragedies on Long Island and will save lives. I commend Governor Cuomo on his dedication to making our highways the safest in the Nation.”

Assemblyman David Gantt said, “I’m very pleased that Governor Cuomo is implementing the pilot program he and the legislature approved to install vehicle height detection systems to prevent large trucks from striking low bridges. Maintaining the safety of commercial trucking and the general traveling public is of the upmost importance”

Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano said, “From investing in roadway repairs to protecting our infrastructure and strengthening laws that prevent DWI, New York State is leading the nation in highway safety. I commend the Governor and State Department of Transportation for the use of this latest technology that will surely help increase highway safety for all motorists.”

NYSDOT installed a similar system in 2011 along the Onondaga Lake Parkway in Salina, near Syracuse, to prevent over-height vehicles from striking a low railroad bridge. Since going online, that system has detected more than 400 over-height vehicles, and the bridge has only been struck once.

The detection systems are the latest effort by the NYSDOT to keep commercial vehicles off parkways and improve safety. The bridge strikes often result in serious accidents, significant traffic delays for motorists and sometimes damage to the bridges. In 2013, 150 bridge strikes were recorded on parkways in the Hudson Valley, New York City and Long Island, which is a 29% reduction in bridge hits over the same period of 2012. Bridge hits in the lower Hudson Valley dropped 49% in the same period.

Under the direction of Governor Cuomo, NYSDOT has taken a variety of steps to investigate and reduce the number of commercial vehicle bridge strikes on parkways and highways. The Department has improved signage and road markings, installed flashing beacons and electronic variable message signs alerting truckers of travel and bridge height restrictions, and made better mapping information available to truckers through GPS services, industry groups, brochures, and the 511NY travel information service.

Within the past year, NYSDOT has installed pavement markings and additional signage at locations on the Hutchinson River, Saw Mill River and Cross County Parkways in Westchester County; the Northern and Southern State Parkways in Long Island; and the FDR Drive, Mosholu and Grand Central Parkways in New York City.

NYSDOT 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 metro region. As part of this effort, NYSDOT has initiated discussions with insurance companies, map providers, GPS manufacturers, and the trucking industry to collaborate on safety improvements.