West Central Over-Height Vehicle Detection System

Background

The West Central Avenue railway overpass has been subject to multiple strikes by vehicles too tall for the 12-foot 7-inch clearance. Plaques posted on both sides of the bridge are supplemented by 13 advance warning signs (six from the east and seven from the west) on Central Avenue. All of the signs include flashing beacons or LED lights. Even with all the signage, drivers continued to ignore the warnings and drive into the bridge. Many impacts resulted in significant vehicle damage, as well as thousands of dollars in costs for the city to manage debris cleanup and traffic control, plus hours of travel delay and inconvenience for neighbors and residents.

Staff considered lowering the pavement below the bridge to provide more clearance. Reconstructing several hundred feet of Central Avenue on either side of the bridge, as well as multiple residential and commercial driveways, upgrades to storm sewers, and obtaining permission from CSX Railway to excavate below their structure put the projected cost at about $1 million. A second alternative developed in 2015 involved the installation of a laser-activated advance warning system that would only activate for vehicles exceeding the posted height restriction. Studies show that motorists are more likely to obey a traffic control device that abruptly turns on verses one that continuously operates. A request for state safety funding prepared by City staff was approved in 2015.

 

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