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Hochul announces completion of project to reduce bridge strikes at North Grand Island Bridges


Thu, May 9th 2024 03:20 pm

$1.9 million project to help reduce instances of trucks and other over-height vehicles striking underpasses

√ Installation of electronic over-height detection systems along Niagara Scenic Parkway, LaSalle Expressway and Interstate 190

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the completion of a $1.9 million project to help reduce instances of trucks and other over-height vehicles striking the underpasses leading to the North Grand Island Bridges in the City of Niagara Falls. Electronic over-height detection systems have been installed along three key approaches to the underpasses, including from the Niagara Scenic Parkway, LaSalle Expressway and Interstate 190.

Hochul’s team said, “The eastbound and westbound Grand Island Bridges are vital conduits for travel between the United States and Canada, and the underpasses have been struck by vehicles 28 times in the past 10 years, causing unnecessary delays and hazards for motorists.”

Hochul said, “Bridge strikes create dangerous situations, and it’s imperative that we do all we can to prevent them. The electronic detection systems that have been installed on the approaches to the North Grand Island Bridges will enhance safety and help keep traffic moving on an important route for travelers headed to and from Niagara Falls and Canada. Safety is everyone’s responsibility, and we need drivers to remain alert and heed the warning signs, as bridge strikes are 100% preventable.”

The project installed over-height vehicle detection systems on each of the approaches to the two North Grand Island Bridges’ underpasses, from eastbound Niagara Scenic Parkway, westbound LaSalle Expressway and northbound Interstate 190 at Exit 21 in the City of Niagara Falls. The eastbound North Grand Island Bridge has a posted clearance of 11 feet, 8 inches, and the westbound North Grand Island Bridge has a posted clearance of 12 feet.

Each detection system includes receiver sensors mounted on either side of the roadway with an infrared transmitter in advance of the bridge that creates an infrared beam over the road. When an over-height vehicle breaks the beam, the receiver sends a signal and activates a warning message alert on a dynamic message sign, notifying the driver to either exit immediately or pull into a refuge area. Signs in the refuge areas instruct over-height vehicle operators to contact the Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC) Traffic Operations Center.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez said, “Bridge strikes have been an all-too-common occurrence at the North Grand Island Bridges, creating unwanted headaches for travelers and threatening the viability of our infrastructure. With the installation of this modern detection system, we are giving drivers of over-sized vehicles a clear and unmistakable warning that their vehicles are too tall for the road, and it is imperative that they stay alert and abide by these warnings. Safety must always be the top priority.”

Thruway Authority Executive Director Frank G. Hoare said, “Bridge strikes are avoidable and cause disruptions for travelers and local communities, resulting in substantial costs and wasted time for our maintenance crews. I want to thank Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Dominguez for partnering with the Thruway Authority to install over-height detection systems at the North Grand Island Bridges. The iconic blue truss bridges are more than 60 years old, and preventing bridge strikes will help ensure they remain safe and viable well into the future.”

Last year, the State Department of Transportation launched a bridge strike prevention campaign titled “Check Your Height, Know It’s Right,” which was designed to ensure that drivers know the height of their vehicles so they know if they can safely make it under any and all bridges. It featured numerous videos, graphics and photos, and social media messages, and impressed upon all drivers that it is their responsibility to know their height and avoid bridges that they are too tall for. Additionally, NYSDOT and the Thruway Authority will continue to alert drivers of over-height vehicles that consumer GPS and cell phone mapping systems do not include warnings for bridge heights, which puts them at risk of collisions.

Congressman Timothy Kennedy said, “This new investment in the North Grand Island Bridges will help to prevent bridge strikes and keep traffic – and commerce – flowing in Niagara Falls. Bridge strikes are an entirely preventable but all too common occurrence on our local highways. Thank you to the New York State DOT for prioritizing the implementation of this new system that will protect key pieces of our regional transportation infrastructure.”

New York State Sen. Sean Ryan said, “Bridge underpass collisions are more common than most people probably realize. They can lead to expensive repairs and cause traffic delays that inconvenience drivers. Maintaining the Grand Island Bridges is important to residents and travelers alike, and this newly installed technology is a smart way to prevent bridge strikes before they cause costly damage and delays. Thank you to Gov. Hochul for prioritizing this project.”

New York State Sen. Robert Ortt said, “I’d like to thank the hardworking men and women of the New York State Department of Transportation for enhancing the safety of our roadways. Using new technologies to warn trucks and oversized vehicles of upcoming danger will create safer commutes and travel conditions for all motorists who traverse our roads.”

Assemblyman Angelo Morinello said, “I’d like to thank Gov. Hochul and DOT for their attention to this important issue. This project will not only reduce the number of accidents underneath the Grand Island Bridges, but it will also create a much safer underpass with less potential for delays on the parkway.”

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