Letter: Mismarked Bridges

This Letter to the Editor appear in the Oct. 15 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

This letter is in regard to the Sept. 24 TTNews.com story with the headline “GPS Devices Causing Trucks to Hit Low Overpasses, Sen. Schumer Says.”

While Sen. Charles Schumer is partially correct in his assessment of GPS units, the GPS units in question just aren’t designed with trucks in mind. However, even the units designed specifically for trucks aren’t 100% accurate.

While for the life of me I cannot understand why a trucker would use a GPS unit designed for a car, I do understand their dilemma: the cost factor.

GPS units programmed for large trucks are upwards of $350. That’s a small price to pay to avoid hitting a bridge (or ending up in a tunnel with explosives), but when you’re not making enough money to survive to start with, that $100 unit for cars is much more appealing, and they figure they will roll the dice. Wrong decision!

I grew up on Long Island and learned how to drive large trucks there — and to include New York City — and I have never hit a bridge. I have traveled in 48 of the 50 states, to include Chicago, and never hit a bridge. But I have been in situations of backing up a half-mile or better to avoid turning a van trailer into a flatbed.

Making a wild guess, I would venture to say that 95% of the bridges in New York are mismarked. Here’s a good example: The Brooklyn Queens Expressway (BQE), Interstate 278, heading north or west (whichever way they want to define it) just prior to Atlantic Avenue is marked “12 feet, 6 inches, all trucks over this height must exit”

onto the streets of Brooklyn. But once you exit, there aren’t any detour signs instructing you which way to go to gain access back to the BQE, and there are additional low overpasses on those streets. What a mess.

What’s more, trucks measuring 13 feet, 6 inches go under the bridge on the BQE all day long. Why on Earth would this be? While there is absolutely no reason to hit a bridge, there also should be no question as to the height of the bridge prior to going under it, and there should be ample notice as to being able to detour around it long before approaching it and finding nowhere to turn around.

Schumer needs to start with cleaning his own house and getting those bridges in the state of New York marked properly with actual heights, or like the sign on the Long Island Expressway onto the Northern State 51 Parkway very clearly indicating “No Trucks.” You cannot mismark bridges and start pointing fingers when they are hit.

According to the TTNews story, “The accidents have resulted in $4.1 million in repairs on the Long Island Expressway in recent years, according to the New York State Department of Transportation.” I’ll bet that $4 million-plus in repairs would have covered the cost of proper signage statewide. Get it done!

David Marsh

Grayson, Ga.


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