SYRACUSE, N.Y- Last week, Governor Kathy Hochul announced a new campaign to raise awareness for bridge strikes. The week-long campaign ran from Nov. 5 through Nov. 11.
Governor Hochul’s newest campaign was called “Check Your Height, Know It’s Right.” It focused on spreading safe-driving awareness for truck drivers through social media posts. The campaign also emphasized more road signs informing drivers the height of upcoming bridges.
“We unfortunately have two low bridges in the area. One just off Park Street near the mall and then another on Onondaga Lake Parkway,” said Sergeant Matthew Malinowski of the Syracuse Police Department. “We’ve had challenges with tractor trailers hitting them. In an extreme case a passenger bus had struck it and people had died and gotten seriously injured.”
The Onondaga Lake Parkway Bridge, located in Salina, New York, gets hit at an alarmingly high rate. It is relatively short for a bridge, at just 10 feet, 9 inches tall. Last year, the bridge was hit eight times, according to the New York State Department of Transportation. Bridge hit numbers have remained relatively consistent over the past few years despite attempts to alert drivers of the bridge’s height ahead of time.
“We’ve already put up signs. We’ve put up a lot of warnings,” said Sgt. Malinowski. There’s multiple bridge strikes that happen on the parkway and in the city. I think what’s important is that there needs to be some sort of system in place that’s more of an advanced warning.”
The high frequency of hits at the Onondaga Lake Parkway Bridge has local drivers fearing for their safety on the road.
“It doesn’t really make me feel safe,” said local resident Zach Cohen. “Especially when I’m passing a truck on the highway or on the bridge.”
Truck safety is important not just for truck drivers, but for everybody involved.
“It’s a whole process in trying to get the vehicle turned around,” said Sgt. Malinowski. “We have to have police officers respond to the scene so not only is that tying up our resources, but then it creates a traffic problem for everyone trying to use that avenue.”