Over-Height Vehicle Detection System Now Operational

System Installed Along Onondaga Lake Parkway Warns over Height Vehicles

ALBANY, NY (11/02/2011)(readMedia)-- New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Commissioner Joan McDonald today announced that the over-height vehicle detection system installed along Onondaga Lake Parkway (Route 370) – between I-81 and the Village of Liverpool – has become fully operational. This system will provide an additional warning to drivers of vehicles whose height exceeds 11 feet and is intended to significantly reduce the number of crashes into the CSX railroad bridge that crosses above the highway.

"The new over-height vehicle detection system will provide a highly visible message to drivers who shouldn't be on the Onondaga Lake Parkway," said McDonald. "This system, the upcoming commercial vehicle restriction and the other safety enhancements the Department brought to the Parkway in the past year will make travel safer for all motorists."

The system consists of a laser projector and receiver mounted on opposite sides of the Parkway, vehicle-presence detectors placed in each lane of the roadbed and two dynamic electronic message signs. If an over-height vehicle interrupts the laser beams while passing over the pavement detectors, the roadside dynamic message signs will flash a message to the driver to stop in advance of the low CSX bridge ahead. The system will also automatically send a message to NYSDOT's Traffic Management Center, which will then notify Onondaga County's 911 center so that law enforcement can be dispatched to assist the driver in turning the vehicle around.

In addition, NYSDOT will be implementing a ban on commercial vehicles on the Parkway later this year. Signs advising motorists of the ban will be posted at all approaches to the Parkway – I-81 and Park Street in the City of Syracuse, and Oswego Street in the Village of Liverpool. Vehicles with commercial license plates will be directed to use Old Liverpool Road as a bypass.

Since last fall, NYSDOT has taken a variety of steps to improve traffic safety on the Parkway and ensure that the drivers of over-height vehicles are aware of the CSX bridge:

Improved signage was installed on I-81 and other area roads directing travelers to the bus and train station;

A 30 mile-per-hour speed limit was extended from the Village of Liverpool 900 feet to the east to slow traffic near various park entrances;

Electronic signs showing vehicular speeds have been used at different locations to discourage aggressive driving;

Local police agencies, including the Onondaga County Sheriff's Department, have stepped up traffic enforcement on the highway at NYSDOT's request;

Centerline rumble strips, or audible roadway delineators, were installed in May between the eastbound and westbound lanes to alert drivers when they are in danger of crossing into the opposing highway travel lane;

NYSDOT crews early this spring removed brush and trees to make the bridge and the signs leading up to it more visible. There are seven signs eastbound and 13 signs westbound that warn of the low bridge and its 10-foot-nine-inch clearance, including three in each direction within three-quarters of a mile of the bridge, three of them with flashing beacons;

"Low bridge Ahead" pavement markings were installed in May in advance of the CSX bridge in both directions to augment the many highway signs; and

A closed-circuit camera was installed to feed into the regional Traffic Management Center to monitor activities near the bridge.

A double-decker coach bus crashed into the CSX railroad bridge last September, killing four people and injuring others. The driver has been charged with criminally negligent homicide.