Earlier this month, we discussed the comparatively unknown safety issue of GPS-induced trucking collisions; that is, the propensity of some truck drivers to collide into low-clearance and/or older bridges due to the misappropriation of end-user (i.e., consumer) GPS technology, rather than the more robust commercial GPS software that’s designed to notify drivers of oncoming low-clearance bridges. In that post, we reference Buffalo, NY’s NPR affiliate and their mention of the frequency of truckers colliding with bridges throughout upstate and western NY.
However, recent reports about a truck colliding with the Moosic St. bridge in Scranton (one that plays a critical function in the city’s transportation infrastructure and that PennDOT estimates is used more than 15,000 times per day) is a more local representation of the potential dangers and costs posed by some commercial trucks, especially as trucks make their way through urban areas.
According to WNEP’s first report on this incident, authorities initially characterized the incident as a “hit and run” – the significant damage to the bridge required PennDOT to close the bridge immediately upon realization of the inflicted to multiple support seams.
Although there were no witnesses (as of yet) to the incident, a review of the damage indicated that a truck collided into the bridge at multiple points and then somehow fled the scene, despite the implication that the responsible party’s vehicle must have also suffered significant damage. However, the investigation benefited last Friday when someone reported to the Scranton PD a suspicious-looking excavator parked off of Drinker Street in Dunmore, PA (source: WNEP.com) Inspection of the vehicle turned up “pieces of concrete in the arm” of the excavator. By Saturday, authorities impounded the vehicle (source: Truck Impounded; Possibly Damaged Scranton Bridge via WNEP.com)
How pervasive is this threat to our infrastructure?
PennDOT indicated that the damage to the bridge was so severe, it will need to be replaced – the project will cost upwards of a million dollars and won’t be implemented for several months. Meanwhile, the heavy volume of traffic normally handled by the bridge has been diverted – much to the annoyance of its users.
This issue seems to be pretty pervasive, and to see just how pervasive these kinds of trucking collisions are, we turned to Google News, which indexes news-worthy content providers relevant to the user’s search parameters. A Google query using the terms “trucks damaging bridges” yields upwards of 7 distinct reports of such incidents since Nov. 1 of this year! Trucking dangers to the nation’s urban transportation infrastructure – in particular, bridges – is worthy of corrective action on the part of local governments and/or governing bodies responsible or capable of implementing standards that might reduce the damage and/or risk. In finding a solution to this issue, it’s important to consider the culprits in each case – whether it be distracted drivers, misuse of GPS devices, or the infrastructure itself (after all, older bridges seem to be correlated with lower clearance heights).
What do you think can be done to reduce the frequency or cost of this problem?
- Should efforts focus on updating the infrastructure itself (i.e., increasing clearances for older bridges)?
- Or should governing bodies hold the trucking industry and truck drivers to a higher standard of driving safety by implementing usage requirements for safety technology such as GPS?
(Source: WNEP Scranton) WNEP.com Scranton – “Police Investigate Crash that Damaged Scranton Bridge
Police Investigate Crash That Damaged Scranton Bridge
SCRANTON — Police in Scranton think they’ve identified the truck and its driver that clipped the top of bridge in the city last week.
PennDOT officials say the bridge needs to be replaced. It will be closed for months and the work will cost about $1 million dollars.
Police spent the weekend piecing together what happened on Friday morning. That’s when they say a truck scraped the bottom of the bridge damaging each beam. On Monday, police met with prosecutors from the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office about possibly filing charges against the truck driver who caused the damage.
This strange case of hit and run started to make more sense on Friday night.
Scranton Police say someone spotted an excavator off of Drinker Street in Dunmore and it looked suspicious. The top of it was scratched and investigators found pieces of concrete stuck in the arm.
At the scene, investigators wrapped the arm with plastic wrap to preserve the evidence. They think the excavator was on the back on a flatbed truck, and that’s what caused the crash.
Cops say that was a big break in the investigation. It lead them to a driver and a few other people they think may have been involved.
Police started meeting with prosecutors from the Lackawanna County DA’s Office to discuss possible charges. But, so far, they’re not saying much else about what happened Friday morning.
In the meantime, PennDOT officials are working on a design for the new bridge that they say will take months to build and cost about a million dollars.
Crews set up a detour that was met with some confusion from drivers.
“I got a little confused so I had to pull in here. I usually come around and get back on I-81 over here,” said Maggie Gething of Lenoxville.
PennDOT says some 15,000 drivers use the bridge to get onto Interstate 81 or get downtown everyday. And, now, Norma Boone says those 15,000 drivers are in her neighborhood.
“People are impatient, it’s just going to be bad,” Boone said.
Boone says many drivers aren’t following the posted detour and are cutting down her street, Orchard Street, instead.
Drivers say the detour is lengthy, about a half mile out-of-the-way and it adds five traffic lights more to your trip.
“It’s been crazy here, a lot of people blowing their horns and yelling. It’s backed up all the way to the end of the street,” added Boone.
Police have not filed any charges against the person they think was the driver of the flatbed truck. They say they expect to release more information this week about what they know, what charges the driver may face, and who owns the trucks involved.
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