The number of bridge strikes occurring at King Street in Rye Brook continues to decline in 2020.

In the first half of this year, only two trucks struck the King Street Bridge. There were a total of eight bridge strikes at King Street in 2019 and 24 in 2018.

“The trend line at King Street continues to move in a very encouraging direction,” County Executive George Latimer said. “We are monitoring this issue closely and we are continuing to work with New York State to bring the same progress to other areas of the Hutchinson River Parkway.”

The King Street Bridge was struck by vehicles 130 times from 2008 to 2018 – more than any other bridge in New York State. Latimer has made eliminating bridge strikes a priority and has worked closely with the New York State Department of Transportation to find new solutions. 

He said that a $1.8 million state project to mitigate bridge strikes at King Street, completed in the summer of 2019, is getting results. The project included installing an over-height vehicle detection system in advance of the bridge, placing additional warnings on the face of the bridge and installing more signage along Interstate 287 to keep trucks from getting on the Hutch in the first place.

In 2018, the last full year before the State’s project, there were 24 bridge strikes at King Street. In 2019, there were just eight bridge strikes – four of them occurring in the first quarter of the year, before the state improvements began being implemented.

The overall number of bridge strikes in 2020 is also down slightly compared to the same period a year earlier. In the first six months of 2020, there were 36 bridge strikes as follows:  Hutchinson River Parkway, 27; Saw Mill River Parkway, seven; Bronx River Parkway, three.

In 2018 and 2019, there were 86 and 88 bridge strikes, respectively, on those same parkways.

Public Safety Commissioner Thomas A. Gleason said bridge strikes not only pose an inconvenience to motorists but also danger. When tractor trailers or box trucks slam into a bridge, cargo and other debris often spills out on the roadway and endangers anyone driving nearby.

“In every bridge strike that occurs, a truck driver has driven past multiple signs, pavement markings and electronic message boards that advise them that trucks are prohibited and low bridges are ahead,” Gleason said. “Driver inattention to signage while blindly following GPS is at the heart of this problem.”

Bridge Strike Background
As part of the State project, enhanced signage and electronic message boards, known formally as Variable Message Signs (VMS), were deployed along Interstate 287 to warn that trucks are prohibited on the Hutch and other designated parkways.  The signs on I-287 signs direct truckers to stay on the interstate and avoid the Hutch.

Many out-of-state truckers involved in bridge strikes have reported to Westchester County Police that they were traveling on I-287 before exiting to get on the Hutchinson River Parkway. Whether they head north or south from that location, truckers soon encounter bridges that are too low to accommodate a box truck or tractor-trailer.

The project’s two over-height vehicle detectors are at Exits 26 and 29 of the Hutchinson River Parkway. The detection system includes technology mounted on either side of the road, creating an infrared beam over the parkway.

When an over-height vehicle breaks the beam, the receiver sends a signal and activates a warning message on a VMS, notifying the driver to exit the parkway immediately. An alert is also sent to the County Police and to the New York State Transportation Management Center in Hawthorne.

The new signs and message boards installed last summer were in addition to existing signs, VMS and pavement markings on the Hutch and its entrance ramps. These signs and pavement markings advise NO TRUCKS LOW BRIDGE, Passenger Cars Only and other warnings. Many truckers involved in bridge strikes admit they were inattentive to the signs and were relying on a GPS program on their personal phone rather than a GPS device designed to guide commercial vehicles.

The newest signage includes a variety of new messages on the Hutch or I-287 near the Hutch interchange, including:

  • Low Bridges Ahead
  • Trucks Exit Now
  • All Trucks Buses RVs Must Exit
  • Trucks Do Not Use Phone GPS
  • Trucks Stay on I-287
  • Low Bridge on Exit 9N
  • No Trucks Buses RVs on Parkways – Low Bridges
  • Trucks to Conn Whitestone Bridge Must Use Exit 12.

Reflective red triangles were placed on the bridge structures to enhance a trucker’s ability to see a low bridge ahead in the dark.

The County police issue multiple summonses to truckers involved in bridge strikes. It also works with the trucking company’s insurance provider to obtain reimbursement for the police time spent at these incidents.