SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — From the attention it gets on the internet, it feels like another truck hits the railroad bridge over Onondaga Lake Parkway every other week. New data released by the State Department of Transportation to NewsChannel 9 shows exactly how many times it’s happened.
On February 8, the first strike of 2023 on the parkway bridge occurred and there is a good chance the number will go up through the year.
In 2022, there were eight instances of trucks being taller than 10 feet, nine inches, therefore hitting the bridge.
The data shows regular strikes, despite the efforts made by the DOT to warn drivers in recent years.
Those efforts include a total of 46 signs and signals ahead of the bridge from both sides.
Statewide, the DOT has spent nearly $30 million in educating drivers about low bridges.
Bridge strikes remain constant over the last three years
|2020 Strikes||2021 Strikes||2022 Strikes|
Why can’t the bridge be removed?
Central New Yorkers have suggested different ways to tackle this problem including raising the bridge, lowering the road, putting in a turnaround, and installing a different hanging alert system, like chains that hit the tops of trucks as a warning.
Over the years, the DOT has said why those different improvements can’t be implemented.
Raising the bridge isn’t possible because according to a 2011 report following the 2010 crash that killed four people when their Megabus hit the bridge, the DOT deemed it not feasible to raise the bridge’s height or lower the roadway.
The railroad bridge is owned by CSX, a railroad transportation company. In 2019, CSX shared with the DOT, after many discussions, that they would be open to replacing the bridge, however, only if the state paid for it and with minimal disruption to the rail line.
Ed Rodriguez of the NYSDOT told NewsChannel 9 in 2019 that kind of project would cost tens of millions of dollars.
Lowering the road isn’t possible because the pavement can’t be lower than the water level of Onondaga Lake. There can’t be a turnaround because the state doesn’t own the land on the side of the road.
Lastly, a hanging alert system — which would be a bar or chains that a truck hits to remind them to turn around — is a liability concern according to the state and there are other logistical issues with a hanging alert system.
As of June 2023, the State DOT was working on a project on the Onondaga Lake Parkway that would “enhance safety for motorists and truck drivers by reducing speeds, enhancing signage and replacing the over-height vehicle detection system,” but a DOT spokesperson told NewsChannel 9 Thursday there’s no update on that project.
In the meantime, it’s up to drivers to be more aware of the roads and pay attention to the current countermeasures that the state DOT has already implemented.