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New Technology To Prevent Bridge Strikes Deployed Along Hutchinson River Parkway

RYE BROOK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) - A bridge over a busy parkway in Westchester County has a dubious distinction: It has been hit by trucks almost 150 times in the last 10 years.

That's more than any other bridge in the state.

Now new technology is in place to put the brakes on the bridge strikes.

The King Street Bridge on the Hutchinson River Parkway is right on the New York/Connecticut state line. Twenty four times last year, a truck illegally driving on the Hutch has struck it, often shaking the Cassese home a block away.

"Big impact, echoing explosion. Absolutely wakes us up out of our sleep," said homeowner Chris Cassese.

"These stupid trucks... they're too loud. Crazy drivers," an 8-year-old told CBS2's Tony Aiello.

Over the years, CBS2 has reported time and time again as trucks too tall to fit under the bridge wander onto the Hutch and end up striking it, peeling of the roof, sometimes sparking fires.

That always causes massive delays for drivers struck behind them.

"Somebody who couldn't get to school, couldn't get to a doctor's appointment. This has been a perennial source of frustration in this community," said St. Sen. Shelley Mayer.

Last year, County Executive George Latimer made this a priority. Now, the payoff has come: Almost $2 million in new infrared detectors near Exits 26 and 29. When an overheight truck drives past and breaks the infrared beam, warning signs light up telling the vehicles to exit immediately.

There state also added almost a dozen variable message signs now on the shoulder, warning trucks they don't belong on the parkway. They also added multiple additional signs warning of low clearances.

The state said no, for now, to a request to install so-called "headbangers" - a kind of overheight warning unit - at some of the Parkway entrances. The county will revisit if the problem persists.

Most of the drivers who hit the bridge are navigating using an app like Waze on their smartphone. Latimer asked companies including Waze to add prominent low clearance parkway warnings in their app, including audible alerts.

"We did not get the kind of response we wanted. We haven't given up on it, and I think perhaps we'll work with the state because that might have more impact with these people than just the county government," Latimer said.

The state says it is using a "three E" approach.

"Engineering, education, and enforcement. It takes all three," said N.Y. State Department of Transportation Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez. "Need to educate the public, and also need a factor of enforcement."

Minutes after the press conference, the system triggered police to a truck, which was pulled over before it could strike the bridge.

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