N.Y. Deploys Tactics to Mitigate Bridge Strikes

Wrong-Way Driving Also Targeted in State’s Safety Push
New York state highway sign

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Truck drivers traveling along Long Island highways are likely to see new signs and pavement markers to deter wrong-way drivers and over-height vehicles from striking overpasses due to a N.Y. transportation safety initiative.

Thousands of highly reflective signs and pavement markings have been installed in 700 locations on some of the busiest highways in Nassau and Suffolk counties.

“Wrong-way drivers and over-height vehicles pose obvious safety hazards that can cause unspeakable tragedies and lead to unnecessary delays and hardships for motorists,” Gov. Kathy Hochul announced Sept. 14. “With these new signs and pavement markings, we are providing hard-to-ignore warnings that will help deter wrong-way drivers and over-height trucks to protect the safety of their fellow motorists.”

The new signs, 75% larger than previous ones, each display a bridge’s height and have signpost reflectors to help truckers avoid striking overpasses.

Warning Signs

To deter bridges from being struck by over-height vehicles, the state has installed reflective warning signs in 282 places on eight state parkways:

• Bethpage

• Heckscher

• Meadowbrook

• Northern

• Sagtikos

• Southern

• Sunken Meadow

• Wantagh

Note: Signage also has been placed on the Robert Moses Causeway.

“Low Bridge Clearance” pavement markings are being installed at 17 targeted parkway locations to also increase awareness. The state has installed 16 over-height vehicle detectors at ramps where trucks frequently have entered parkways. The detectors can flash a warning sign to notify drivers and transmit alerts to the state DOT’s regional traffic management center.

“All too often, trucks and other over-height vehicles — unaware of the state parkway height restrictions — have entered the parkways and struck the overpasses, causing traffic backups and damage to highway infrastructure,” according to the governor’s office.

Long Island’s state parkways, built several decades ago with low stone arch bridges, were constructed to handle passenger vehicles traveling along N.Y.’s scenic drives, but today are major commuting routes connecting suburban communities to New York City.

New York has been trying different strategies to deter bridge strikes for years. The N.Y. State Freight Transportation Plan from 2019 noted there had been 600 bridge strikes since 2015. Warning systems already had been installed on parkways on Long Island, in New York City and in the lower Hudson Valley. The state was investing $25 million in bridge-strike mitigation projects to prevent accidents, injuries, traffic delays and damage to bridge infrastructure.


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“While signage can warn trucks of immediate hazards, bridge clearance signing is applied on all bridges with a measured clearance of 14 feet or less to warn drivers of available clearance. All states except New York post bridges at no more than 3 inches below actual clearance. New York state posts bridges at 12 inches below actual clearance. While this provides additional buffer to vehicles, it can also be confusing to interstate truckers who may believe their vehicles cannot pass under a bridge, and will therefore opt for less-efficient routes,” the plan stated.

The new safety enhancements also include more than 3,600 “Wrong Way” and “Do Not Enter” signs installed at 422 parkway, expressway and highway ramps to discourage wrong-way drivers from entering high-speed highways, expressways and parkways on Long Island.

Facing against normal traffic flow is a “Do Not Enter” sign followed by four “Wrong Way” signs plus signposts with red reflective strips for better visibility. Additional pavement markings and reflectors in roadways also have been installed on the ramps to alert drivers traveling in the wrong direction.



Marie Therese Dominguez, state Department of Transportation commissioner, said, “Safety is always the top priority of the Department of Transportation, and these new signs and pavement markings will help us combat the dangerous instances of wrong-way driving and bridge strikes on Long Island roadways.

“However, safety is everyone’s responsibility. While we remain committed to doing all we can to enhance the safety of our roadways, we need motorists to obey the rules of the road, drive responsibly and remain alert at all times.”

Suffolk County executive Steve Bellone thanked the governor and other state officials “for taking additional proactive measures to reduce and prevent serious injuries and fatal crashes on Long Island.”

Similarly, Bruce Blakeman, a Nassau County executive, predicted the safety enhancements would “help make our highways safer for the hundreds of thousands of Nassau County motorists who use them every day.”

These new transportation safety measures in Long Island meet or exceed all state and federal highway safety standards, the governor’s office noted.

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