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Niagara Falls, N.Y., Bridges Get Over-Height Vehicle Sensors

Officials have wrapped a $1.9 million project to help cut down on tall vehicles hitting underpasses leading to the north Grand Island Bridges in Niagara Falls. The electronic over-height detection systems rely in part on infrared transmitters.

(TNS) — A $1.9 million project to help reduce instances of trucks and other over-height vehicles striking the underpasses leading to the north Grand Island Bridges in Niagara Falls has been completed.

Electronic over-height detection systems have been installed along three key approaches to the underpasses, including from the Niagara Scenic Parkway, LaSalle Expressway and Interstate I-190. The eastbound and westbound Grand Island Bridges have been struck by vehicles 28 times in the past 10 years, causing unnecessary delays and hazards for motorists.

The project installed over-height vehicle detection systems on each of the approaches to the two North Grand Island Bridges' underpasses, from eastbound Niagara Scenic Parkway, westbound LaSalle Expressway and northbound Interstate 190 at Exit 21 in the City of Niagara Falls. The eastbound North Grand Island Bridge has a posted clearance of 11'-8", and the westbound North Grand Island Bridge has a posted clearance of 12'-0".

Each detection system includes receiver sensors mounted on either side of the roadway with an infrared transmitter in advance of the bridge that creates an infrared beam over the road. When an over-height vehicle breaks the beam, the receiver sends a signal and activates a warning message alert on a dynamic message sign, notifying the driver to either exit immediately or pull into a refuge area. Signs in the refuge areas instruct over-height vehicle operators to contact the Niagara International Transportation Technology Coalition (NITTEC) Traffic Operations Center.

"Bridge strikes create dangerous situations and it's imperative that we do all we can to prevent them," Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "The electronic detection systems that have been installed on the approaches to the North Grand Island Bridges will enhance safety and help keep traffic moving on an important route for travelers headed to and from Niagara Falls and Canada. Safety is everyone's responsibility, and we need drivers to remain alert and heed the warning signs, as bridge strikes are 100 percent preventable."

Last year, the State Department of Transportation launched a bridge strike prevention campaign titled "Check Your Height, Know It's Right," which was designed to ensure that drivers know the height of their vehicles so they know if they can safely make it under any and all bridges. It featured numerous videos, graphics and photos, and social media messages, and impressed upon all drivers that it is their responsibility to know their height and avoid bridges that they are too tall for. Additionally, NYSDOT and the Thruway Authority will continue to alert drivers of over-height vehicles that consumer GPS and cell phone mapping systems do not include warnings for bridge heights, which puts them at risk of collisions.

"Bridge strikes have been an all-too-common occurrence at the North Grand Island Bridges, creating unwanted headaches for travelers and threatening the viability of our infrastructure. With the installation of this modern detection system, we are giving drivers of over-sized vehicles a clear and unmistakable warning that their vehicles are too tall for the road, and it is imperative that they stay alert and abide by these warnings," said State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez. "Safety must always be the top priority."

©2024 the Niagara Gazette, Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.