A multi-point plan in Westchester to attack the problem of trucks striking too-low overpasses

hutch truck strike.jpg


Several steps will be undertaken by the New York City suburban county of Westchester and other agencies to combat recent increases in truck strikes of overpasses built too low for safe passage of an 18-wheeler.

County Executive George Latimer called the meeting last week following numerous instances of trucks on county parkways. Parkways, by definition, are usually built for passengers cars only, and their overpasses were built with a relatively low overhang. Strikes are nothing new, but a recent increase in them in Westchester--particularly on a key highway, the Hutchinson River Parkway--led to the meeting.

The trucking industry was at the table in the form of the Trucking Association of New York. According to a prepared statement issued by Latimer's office after the meeting, the Association "will work with County Executive’s Office to establish an education program for users of all parkways that would explain the County’s Parkway System." The Association was not available for comment. 

Education has always been seen as part of the solution to parkway strikes, whether they are in Westchester or elsewhere. Take the combination of high trucker turnover and the fact that parkways are highways with unique characteristics that aren't found in the vast majority of the country, and the combination is seen as creating the conditions for bridge strikes.

The steps to be undertaken coming out of the meeting also include an evaluation of installing "head banger" systems at some entrances to the parkways. Head banger systems are set at the level of the overpasses on the entrance ramp, and if a truck strikes one while trying to get on a parkway, that would be a signal that it should not proceed.

The statement by Latimer's office quoted him as saying that "there isn't going to be one solution, but rather many."

The others spelled out by Latimer's office:

--New York's DOT will inform, in real-time, when they are alerted as to the presence of a truck on a parkway. Catherine Cioffi, a spokeswoman for the county executive's office, said the NY DOT has that capability now to know when a truck has entered a road it should not be on, and has been alerting state police in real-time of those instances. But it previously has not been able to alert local police forces that patrol the parkways, and efforts will be undertaken to allow that. 

--Review of bridge strikes on the Bronx River Parkway, another parkway in Westchester that has experienced these incidents.

--An assessment of signage by the New York Department of Transportation--which was at the meeting--of signage coming up to the King Street Bridge on the "Hutch," which has been the focus of some complaints after a late May strike at that bridge.

--Contacting mapping companies such as Waze "to update their software to add in warnings for trucks and other commercial vehicles."

--A sharing of data between Westchester County and the New York DOT on bridge strikes.