Parkway bridge strikes hearing set for LI

The afternoons rush came to a halt on The afternoons rush came to a halt on the Meadowbrook State Parkway just south of Hempstead Tpke. when a misplaced tractor trailer mistakenly entered the parkway south bound a struck an overpass becoming wedged under the bridge. (Aug. 30, 2012) Photo Credit: Fred Kopf

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A public hearing to consider ways to keep trucks from hitting parkway bridges is planned on Long Island this month.

The New York State Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by state Sen. Charles Fuschillo Jr. (R-Merrick), has invited representatives from the state Department of Transportation, a regional Bridge Strike Mitigation Task Force, State Police, the commercial trucking industry, AAA and companies that have created sensor technology that can prevent bridge strikes to present evidence at the Oct. 25 hearing.

The hearing is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Farmingdale State College's Lupton Hall, IRTT Room T-101. Oral testimony is by invitation only, but the public can attend and submit written comments.

Fuschillo cited a recent Newsday report on DOT findings that show about 200 bridge hits have occurred in the state each year since 2005. About a quarter occur on Long Island, but Westchester County -- in particular the Hutchinson River Parkway -- suffers the most.

Last week, there were three separate illegal incursions onto the Northern State Parkway by truckers in just over 24 hours -- two of them resulting in overpass hits.

Besides traffic headaches for Long Island drivers, the strikes have resulted in $7 million in repair and maintenance costs in the past five years, the DOT says.

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Fuschillo said his committee would examine strategies adopted by other states to try to find ways to address the problem.

"We need to heighten awareness of the serious nature of what's happening -- over time, this can damage our bridges," Fuschillo said Monday.

Last week, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) called on federal officials to act in light of reports that GPS directions were responsible for steering trucks onto parkways that prohibit them because of low bridges.

"GPS is no excuse," Fuschillo said, adding he wanted to hear experts' views before the State Legislature reconvenes so solutions could be addressed early in budget negotiations.

"If there's a need for improvements that cost money, let's hear them. If it's been proven to work elsewhere, then we need to look to fund it during the state budget round," he said.

@Newsday

With Patricia Kitchen

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