Three Interesting Bridges

by Rob English

Will the plan to take down the Route 81 causeway through Syracuse survive court challenges and actually happen? I believe so, but time will tell. Should the through-city section come down over the next several years, long distance motorists reaching the Syracuse’s city limits on 81 will have to drive around its urban perimeter using the city’s eastern by-pass, Route 481. The bow-shaped by-pass runs along the deep, Rock Cut valley carved into the earth when a giant lake of melted glacial ice suddenly broke through its natural retaining wall and emptied billions of gallons of water at once into the greater, Onondaga valley a few miles downstream. With more traffic anticipated on the by-pass, construction crews will need to add lanes to it before the city’s section of highway can be taken down, and the expansion would be interesting to watch because a long expanse of 481 is elevated; I would like to see how the contractors will work their magic to widen it.

Speaking of bridges, will they ever find a way to stop trucks from crashing into the low railroad bridge on Onondaga Lake parkway? The bridge cannot be elevated any higher because then trains won’t be able to climb over it; and the road under it can’t be lowered because Onondaga Lake would flood it. It seems like every few weeks I hear about yet another truck stuck under the bridge, and no one has yet found a way to adequately warn truck drivers of the danger.

All kinds of warning signage has been placed along the road and painted onto the road; some warnings have flashing lights. Horns have been suggested. Nothing works because many drivers ignore road signs, or think flashing lights are not meant for them, or they are distracted, or they are lost, etcetera. What is needed is some way to make any driver stop if his or her truck or bus is too high.

How about a red light?

Everybody understands a red light. It doesn’t matter how lost you are, or how tired you are, or how confused or distracted or careless you are, you recognize a traffic light when it is red. You stop.

Syracuse is blessed with several fine engineering firms who could place a beam of light across the road at the proper height, that, if broken by a too-tall vehicle, would signal a traffic light hanging in front of the bridge to turn from green to red. The truck or bus would stop. Traffic police could get the driver turned around, perhaps ticketed for ignoring the signs, and the light could turn green again so traffic could flow instead of having to stop and gawk at yet another truck wedged under the bridge.

Then instead of always reading about the too-low bridge on the Parkway we could focus on the widening of the 481 Rock cut causeway by-passing the city!

Photo of railroad tracks against sky by Pixabay and photo of man in gray pull over hoodieby Aidan Jarrett.

Rob English is a member of People for Animal Rights, a grassroots organization in Central New York.

Contact People for Animal Rights
P.O. Box 3333
Syracuse, NY 13220
(315) 708-4520

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