The New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT) today unveiled new signage and markings installed along the FDR Drive as part of ongoing efforts to reduce bridge strikes along parkways citywide. Trucks and commercial vehicles are restricted from traveling on Parkways, but partly as a result of GPS-enabled cell phone applications, oversize vehicles struck bridges 52 times in New York City last year.
“Trucks are prohibited to drive on Parkways like the FDR, but each and every year, New York City nevertheless sees dozens of preventable crashes – often as trucks are ripped open like sardine cans,” said DOT Commissioner Polly Trottenberg. “While I am happy to report that injuries in such crashes are quite limited, bridge strikes have other costs: immense damage to trucks, enormous traffic delays, and costly and serious damage to our infrastructure. The continued efforts we are unveiling today will complement our work with partners at NY State DOT and the Port Authority to use new technology as well as new signage and markings. We are also working to educate truck operators themselves – including about the proper use of cell-phone enabled GPS -- so that we can dramatically reduce bridge strikes.”
“Overhead strikes of underpasses pose a serious safety risk to the public,” said Chief Thomas Chan, the NYPD’s Chief of Transportation. “Although we have been fortunate with the limited number of injuries associated with these overhead strikes, the flying debris caused by the impact of a large vehicle striking an overhead structure could have potentially fatal consequences. This is besides the costs of fixing the damage to the structure and vehicle involved, the time spent by first-responders at the scene to rectify the incident, and the inconvenience caused to New Yorkers in the form of traffic congestion. The signage and markings being installed by our Vision Zero partner, the Department of Transportation, coupled with the outreach to drivers, provides additional warnings to drivers who are operating on the FDR Drive. We are hopeful that these additional safeguards will mitigate the dangerous outcomes posed by overhead strikes on this restricted parkway.”
“Trucks and commercial vehicles are not allowed to enter the parkways, yet I have witnessed myself how these traffic rules are violated on a daily basis causing traffic delays and transit fatalities in some cases,” said Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez, Chair of the Council Committee on Transportation. "I’m confident that having more specific signage will remind truck drivers that they are not allowed on parkways, eliminate bridge strikes, and make driving safer in New York City.”
The FDR Drive is completely restricted to truck traffic, but several locations along it rank high on the list of persistent bridge strikes and misplaced truck intrusions. From 2010-2016, the truck struck FDR Drive bridges a total of 62 times, concentrated at three different locations: South bound at Gracie Mansion (East 90th Street; 28 crashes), Northbound at the tunnel from East 52nd (23 crashes) and East 62nd Street (nine crashes). So far this year, there have been five bridge strikes along the FDR. In 2014, when the FDR saw 10 bridge strikes, DOT installed a new steel beam on the southbound FDR prior to the Gracie Mansion overpass. The steel beam has protected infrastructure and limited even greater damage to the oversize vehicles. Even when misplaced trucks do not strike a bridge structure, traffic can be delayed significantly when emergency responders must shut down the roadway to back trucks off.
NYC DOT’s efforts, part of an interagency taskforce designed to limit bridge strikes, includes installing new “Passenger Car Only” signage at FDR entry points, painting new markings along the parkway and at entrance ramps warning truck drivers of the low clearance, and installing new bright red signage that directs trucks to exit the FDR Drive. DOT also plans to work with the Trucking Association of New York and the American Trucking Association to coordinate educational outreach to truck operators and rental businesses, as well as collaborate with NYSDOT to explore the feasibility for the installation of real time detection and warning signs. Additional steps are being explored in coordination with PANYNJ and MTA-TBTA.
Commercial trucks and tractor trailers are prohibited from entering parkways in New York because the roadways, built in the 1930s and 1940s, have low bridge clearances, some as low as seven feet. Last year, the New York State Department of Transportation announced a new system designed to keep taller commercial vehicles off low-clearance parkways.
The new detection system uses infrared beams to identify over-height vehicles illegally using a parkway, capture vehicle movements on video and then post a tailored alert message for the driver on an electronic variable message sign, thus enabling the driver to leave the highway before encountering a low bridge. The data and video are also sent to the Department of Transportation’s Joint Traffic Management Center so that police can assist in getting a truck safely off the roadway -- or mobilize quickly after a bridge strike.
“Traffic safety is a critical concern for New Yorkers, especially in areas of high traffic volume, pediatrician crossings, and low bridge clearances,” said Rep. Adriano Espaillat (NY-13). “I commend DOT Commissioner Trottenberg and NYPD Transportation Chief Chan on the installation of new roadway technology, signage and traffic markings to keep residents safe and better informed during their daily commutes.”
"Reducing traffic on our streets requires action to address all the causes of congestion,” said State Senator Liz Krueger. “Better signage to keep trucks off of the FDR Drive will help prevent serious delays for drivers, and serious damage to our infrastructure. I thank the Department of Transportation for their efforts to take on this problem."
“Bridge strikes are a dangerous and expensive problem for motorists and drivers of oversized vehicles,” said Assembly Member Dan Quart. “This new signage system will help reduce the risk of these avoidable accidents that cause costly delays and repairs. I applaud the NYC DOT, NYS DOT, NYPD and the Port Authority for working together with other stakeholders to identify the most dangerous locations to keep our roads and bridges safe.”
"New Yorkers spend 73 hours a year stuck in traffic caused by all types of congestion. As a City we need to do everything we can to prevent accidents and ease congestion," said Council Member Ben Kallos. "Installing new warning signs telling truck drivers to exit may seem simple, but it will go a long way in preventing avoidable accidents involving large trucks and overpasses along the FDR. The new signs will surely save New Yorkers countless hours in traffic while increasing safety. Thank you to Commissioner Trottenberg for taking the time to address this issue."
“The new signage and markings being installed on the FDR Drive by City DOT are another important step in keeping trucks from entering parkways in New York City, where they are prohibited.” said New York State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Paul A. Karas. “These critical measures help to save lives and reduce damage to personal property and State and City infrastructure.”
For more information, please visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/dot/html/motorist/truckrouting.shtml.