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Proposed state senate bill aims to eliminate strikes to bridges like Onondaga Lake Parkway

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Legislation introduced in the state legislature aims to eliminate strikes to low bridges like the Onondaga Lake Parkway Bridge.

State Senator John Mannion (D-Syracuse) said Senate Bill S6644 would require "the State Department of Transportation to conduct a study to compile bridge strike data and identify solutions and associated costs to eliminate the ongoing vehicle strikes on the CSX bridge over the Onondaga Lake Parkway."

“While Salina and the CSX bridge are new to my district this year, as a lifelong central New Yorker the ongoing frustration of repeated vehicle strikes is not," Mannion said. "From raising the bridge to lowering the road to adding a turnaround and even more signage and signals — there’s an abundance of ideas on the table, but zero action. This bill will give us the information and input from experts that we need to make informed decisions and take tangible steps to prevent further strikes on this bridge and all low bridges in the state.”

Assemblyman William Magnarelli is chair of the Assembly Transportation Committee.

“In light of the continuing issues with the Onondaga Parkway CSX bridge, collisions with bridges and elevated structures need to be studied to gather a better sense of effective preventative measures," Magnarelli said. "The most effective measures will reduce, if not eliminate, the frequency of crashes, as well as possibly save someone’s life.”

During a CNY-Central town hall Thursday night regarding the Parkway Bridge in the town of Salina, State DOT officials offered information on what they’re doing to reduce the danger of large vehicles hitting the span. DOT Region 3 Director David Smith said there are three options: the first involves signage.

"Maybe we can simplify some of the signs," Smith said. "Maybe we can put some graphical signs out there and we’re taking a look at that. I think we’ll see some of those changes. Those will be short term.”

He said the state is also looking at medium-term and long-term solutions that would involve stopping trucks from entering the parkway and the biggest idea of all, raising the CSX railway bridge.

“Obviously that means CSX needs to come to the table and hopefully they’ll do so," Smith said. "We’re going to have that conversation. We have some engineers looking at that now, grade changes and what it would take. Because if you raise the bridge, you have to run that out for a very long ways to make that effective. A concern on this end in the village is the at-grade intersection at Old Liverpool Road.”

The bridge has been the site of dozens of crashes in recent years, involving large trucks that get stuck. In 2010, four people were killed when a Megabus crashed into the bridge.

Senate Bill 6644 is in committee. Mannion also introduced Senate Bill S6683 which would require the DOT to provide a list of clearance heights to owners and operators of vehicles like trucks, tractor-trailers, and commercial vehicles.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.
Ava Pukatch joined the WRVO news team in September 2022. She previously reported for WCHL in Chapel Hill, NC and earned a degree in Journalism and Media from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. At UNC, Ava was a Stembler Scholar and a reporter and producer for the award-winning UNC Hussman broadcast Carolina Connection. In her free time, Ava enjoys theatre, coffee and cheering on Tar Heel sports. Find her on Twitter @apukatch.