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Assemblyman Offers Plan To Halt Westchester Bridge Strikes

RYE BROOK, N.Y. – To prevent tractor trailers from driving onto Westchester County parkways and striking low bridges, Assemblyman George S. Latimer (D-91st District) proposed Thursday that the state erect multiple over-sized signs to warn truckers off parkways.

Since 2008, more than 200 trucks have crashed into state parkways, including 23 so far this year. On the Hutchinson River Parkways, the two bridges most frequently struck are the King Street Bridge in Rye Brook and the Mamaroneck Road Bridge in Scarsdale.

At a press conference in Rye Brook on Thursday, Latimer said out-of-state truck drivers need to be made aware of the low-clearance bridges on the limited-access parkways. Most truckers who wander onto the parkways are likely looking for an alternative to traveling on interstates, he said.

Latimer proposed a one-year test that would put up as many as six oversized signs announcing the low bridges to truck drivers before they have the chance to get on the Hutchinson River Parkway.

"We've seen a growing number of incidents, particularly on the Hutchinson. We have a parkway system that was created almost 100 years ago that is not designed for modern tractor trailers," Latimer said. "Not only is it illegal to have trucks on these roads, but it creates a problem for everyone."

The over-sized signs would be yellow with bold black writing warning drivers not to enter the parkways. Latimer said the signs should be placed a mile and a half-mile before the exits. Initially the signs would be placed at three different locations that drivers frequently use to get on the parkway. The first would be southbound on I-684 between exits 2 (Westchester County Airport) and 1 (the parkway). Latimer would also like to see signs eastbound on I-287 between exits 10 (Bowman Avenue) and 9 (Westchester Avenue) and westbound on I-287 between exits 8 (I-287) and 9 (Hutchinson/Merritt Parkway).

"When we have a [bridge] strike, many agencies have to respond. It creates a burden for everyone involved," Rye Brook Police Chief Gregory Austin said. "It's a fiscal burden because of the overtime paid, and it can take a number of hours. We need more conspicuous warning signs at key locations."

"We hope this gets adopted and gets a test case in Scarsdale and Rye Brook," he said. "Once it succeeds, we can replicate it."

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