The New York DOT made it official today, the state will ban commercial vehicles from Onondaga Lake Parkway.
State DOT commissioner Joan McDonald says, "Banning all commercial vehicles from the Onondaga Lake Parkway strengthens our already aggressive efforts to prevent over-height vehicle crashes into the low-clearance CSX railroad bridge over the roadway. This prohibition, combined with a series of other traffic safety initiatives, is aimed at making the Onondaga Lake Parkway as safe as possible."
The ban will go into effect sometime this fall, once enough signs are put in place to notify drivers.
Residents along Old Liverpool Road. where commercial vehicle traffic will be diverted, are concerned about the impact a ban would have on their neighborhoods. While many say the increased traffic will be tough to deal with, the congestion is worth it if it helps save lives.
"I don't agree with the traffic all the time, but people's lives are worth the time of waiting out here," says Patrick Cafarchio, who lives off Old Liverpool Rd.
Onondaga County DOT Commissioner Brian Donnelly says the state conducted a study and found Old Liverpool Rd. would be able to withstand the increased traffic.
"The state has done a traffic study as to what the impact of the commercial traffic ban would be from the parkway on to Old Liverpool Rd, and we were comfortable with the information that they provided us that they could handle that traffic."
The ban was sparked by a fatal bus crash on September 11, 2010 in which a double-decker Megabus crash slammed into the CSX railroad bridge, shearing off part of the bus TMs roof and killing four people. The driver of that bus, John Tomaszewski of New Jersey, has been indicted on four counts of criminally negligent homicide after police say he was using a personal GPS device when the crash took place. Tomaszewski was in Onondaga County Court Wednesday for a hearing in that case, and Judge Anthony Aloi released a Grand Jury's own recommendations on what should be done to try to prevent similar accidents.
The DOT says the bridge clearance over the roadway is 11 feet, nine inches, but the numerous signs leading up to the bridge warn vehicles more than 10 feet, nine inches tall from going underneath in order to avoid crashing into it.
In June, the State DOT released a report containing suggestions on how to improve safety on the Parkway in the way of the Megabus crash and other recent incidents. As part of that report the DOT sought public input on their suggestions. The commercial vehicle ban was one of the highlights of the report.