When it comes to the , truck drivers just aren't getting the message that big rigs aren't allowed.
That's what a state Assembly member and local officials in Rye Brook said Thursday as they renewed calls for a series of new, large warning signs to be installed by the state Department of Transportation on approaches to the Hutch as a way of cutting back on the number of trucks that are illegally entering the parkway and then hitting its low bridges – causing damage and big local traffic headaches.
In Port Chester and Rye Brook, said the King Street Bridge is a prime example of the problem.
“Many agencies respond to these (bridge) strikes, police, DOT and emergency personnel,” said Rye Brook Police Chief Greg Austin. “It creates a fiscal burden on the police department and other agencies. Overtime is often involved because these incidents often span a number of hours and also it’s a burden to the motoring public.”
Just last Friday, July 27, a truck hit the King Street overpass on the Hutchinson River Parkway, creating a transportation nightmare for everyone on the parkway. This bridge-strike type of accident has happened 23 times this year alone, Latimer said.
“There are a few main arteries into Rye Brook,” said Rye Brook Mayor Joan Feinstein. “King Street is an essential road. If something was to ever happen to that bridge we would be in a very difficult situation. It would be very difficult to transverse the Village and of course I worry about people who walk over the bridge as well. I agree with Assemblyman Latimer that to have better signage to alert the truckers that there is a low bridge in front of them is essential.”
Latimer has proposed installing 3 to 6 oversized signs in key approach locations to the Hutchinson River Parkway.
- Southbound on I-684 between Exit 2 (Westchester County Airport) and Exit 1 (Hutchinson River Parkway)
- Eastbound on I-287 between Exit 10 (Bowman Avenue) and Exit 9 (Westchester Avenue)
- Westbound on I-287 between Exit 8 (I-684) and Exit 9 (Hutchinson Pkwy/Merritt Pkwy)
In a letter to state DOT Commission Joe McDonald, Latimer explains why better signage is so crucial.
“The truckers who enter the parkway clearly don’t intend to damage their vehicles and lose their cargo. After-the fact penalties to those that do, does not address the real need: prevention of these incidents in the first place.”
"I believe that NYSDOT takes this issue seriously and will give proper consideration to this proposal. There are certainly other strategies to consider as well. The only unacceptable outcome is to do nothing," Latimer said.
Latimer’s proposal also asks the NYSDOT to speak with GPS providers to update their system to reflect roads closed to truck traffic.
“We encourage the Department’s outreach to the major companies that provide GPS services to truckers, to request modification of their system to show that the Hutch (and other parkways) are closed to truck traffic. Coupled with signage changes, I believe it will provide the best possible advance information to truck drivers passing through the area.”
Latimer, , hopes to see his proposal adopted and, at the very least, tested for one year in the three locations he suggests. Latimer has to cut down the bridge strikes.
Latimer's opponent in the Senate race, Republican businessman , contends Latimer is part of the problem with the Hutch.
"(Latimer), a member of the state Assembly Transportation Committee, has sat idly by for years while hudreds of trucks have illegally entered the Hutchinson River Parkway due to poor highway signage and a lack of simple tools like handing height chains," the Cohen campaign said in a statement issued Thursday. "That is until now — three months before a state Senate election in which he is a candidate."
Cohen contends that the Assembly Transportation Committee has direct jurisdiction over matters like signs for the Hutch.
"Isn't it just like a career politician to announce what needs to get done weeks before Election Day," said Cohen spokesman Bill O'Reilly. "George Latimer has had years to fix this problem, but has done nothing."
The Cohen campaign contends warning signs and releated hardward should have been installed years ago.