ALBANY, NY (readMedia)– New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald today announced that the department is moving forward with plans to prohibit commercial vehicles from using Onondaga Lake Parkway, which is Route 370 between I-81 and the Village of Liverpool, Town of Salina, Onondaga County. Commercial traffic will be directed instead to Old Liverpool Road, also in the Town of Salina, Onondaga County.
“Banning all commercial vehicles from the Onondaga Lake Parkway strengthens our already aggressive efforts to prevent over-height vehicle crashes into the low-clearance CSX railroad bridge over the roadway,” Commissioner McDonald said. “This prohibition, combined with a series of other traffic safety initiatives, is aimed at making the Onondaga Lake Parkway as safe as possible.”
Tractor trailers and vehicles more than 10 feet, nine inches high already are banned from traveling the parkway. NYSDOT is extending the ban to all commercial vehicles following the completion of a traffic safety study that recommended it.
The report concluded that because the majority of vehicles more than 10 feet, nine inches in height are commercial vehicles, excluding all commercial vehicles from the Onondaga Lake Parkway will reduce the potential number of impacts to the CSX Railroad bridge by motorists who may be unaware of their vehicles’ dimensions. Under the ban, motorists driving commercial vehicles will no longer be able to legally travel Onondaga Lake Parkway and will have to use alternate routes, such as Old Liverpool Road, to reach their destinations.
NYSDOT accepted public comments on the ban proposal earlier this summer. The ban will be implemented and enforced once highway signs about it are installed later this fall.
In addition to the commercial vehicle restriction, NYSDOT has installed improved signs on I-81 and other area roads directing travelers to the bus and train station. NYSDOT also is in the process of installing an over-height vehicle detection and warning system on the parkway so that the drivers of vehicles too tall for the bridge can stop before reaching it. The installation is expected to be completed by the end of this construction season.
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.
Since last fall, the State Department of Transportation 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 bridge:
∙ 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. Two additional cameras are scheduled to be installed this year.