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Does commercial traffic ban on the Parkway take it too far?

NYSDOT will soon institute a ban on all commercial traffic on Onondaga Lake Parkway to prevent over-height vehicles from hitting this low railroad bridge, the site of numerous accidents, including a fatal Megabus accident last September.

NYSDOT will soon institute a ban on all commercial traffic on Onondaga Lake Parkway to prevent over-height vehicles from hitting this low railroad bridge, the site of numerous accidents, including a fatal Megabus accident last September.

— Jim Nels is fed up.

Nels, of Baldwinsville, is a business owner who drives a Chevy pickup truck that stands just over six feet tall.

“I have commercial plates on my truck because I use it for work, and I use Onondaga Lake Parkway frequently,” Nels said. “It’ll cost me and my workers more time and energy to drive around the Parkway. I would say there are tens of thousands of pickups, vans, Jeeps – all low commercial vehicles – that use the Parkway every week. Do you think any of them have hit that bridge?”

Nels is one of many drivers annoyed that the New York State Department of Transportation will soon enact a commercial traffic ban on Onondaga Lake Parkway, one of the most traveled routes between the city of Syracuse and the northern suburbs. According to the DOT, restricting all commercial vehicles from using the Parkway is the only way to ensure travelers’ safety on the route.

The measure comes in the wake of last fall’s Megabus crash after the bus driver, following his personal GPS, ignored multiple warning signs and crashed into the 10’9” CSX railroad bridge, killing four people and injuring numerous others. Several other accidents have taken place at the bridge over the years.

“It comes down to ensuring safe passage on Onondaga Lake Parkway,” said William Reynolds, public information officer for the New York State Department of Transportation. “The nine-month study, reviews of multiple bridge accidents, meetings with CSX representatives and local officials, [Monday’s] grand jury recommendation, all of these things taken together meant that DOT deciding that banning commercial vehicles altogether would be the best approach to enhancing public safety on the highway.”

Reynolds also pointed out that not all pickup trucks are commercial vehicles.

“Pickup trucks can also be registered as passenger vehicles,” he said. “Those vehicles that would be allowed – and it would be up to the person who owns that particular vehicle to determine whether their vehicle should be registered as a commercial or a passenger vehicle.”

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