Onondaga Lake Parkway commercial vehicle ban goes into effect

The Onondaga Lake Parkway railroad bridge / file photo

A long-discussed new law went into effect Friday, banning all commercial traffic from the Onondaga Lake Parkway.

You may recall that back in September 2010 a double-decker Megabus crashed into the CSX railroad bridge which spans the Parkway at about its midpoint, killing four passengers and injuring about two dozen others. In the wake of that crash the State Department of Transportation undertook a project to improve the safety of the Parkway, particularly concerning the relatively short 10'9" overpass.

The DOT ultimately decided to ban all commercial vehicles from the highway in an attempt to ensure that no oversized vehicles strike the bridge. This ban affects all vehicles carrying commercial plates, which includes everything from tractor-trailers and buses to local delivery vans and many pickup trucks - many of which may not have any problem fitting under the bridge.

"Prohibiting commercial vehicles from Onondaga Lake Parkway helps keep over-height vehicles off the parkway, ensuring that they don't accidentally strike the low railroad bridge over the highway," said NYS DOT Commissioner Joan McDonald. "This restriction, in combination with other recent safety enhancements, makes travel safer for all Parkway motorists."

Those other safety enhancements include extra signage, warning lights, and a laser detection system to alert drivers that their oversized vehicles are in danger of hitting the bridge.

The DOT says there is one exception to the ban. Commercial vehicles that can clear the bridge and have to use the Parkway to deliver or pick up property between Interstate 81 and Oswego Road in Liverpool, such as to the Onondaga Lake Park or St. Marie Among the Iroquois, will be allowed to drive it.

Some small business owners have expressed concern that the new law will have a negative impact on their bottom lines. Click here to read more about a grocery delivery service owner who thinks the ban could take money out of his pocket and hurt his clientele.

Also, Onondaga County Parks says that commercial vehicles such as buses and vans looking to attend Lights on the Lake should use the newly-created Willow Street entrance in the village. The Parks Department says commercial vehicles coming from the south and east should use Old Liverpool Road and cross over onto Willow Street, while those coming from the north should use Oswego Street (County Route 57) and make a right onto Willow Street. The Parks Department says this new entrance is for commercial vehicles only and park rangers will be stationed at the entrance.

Drivers caught travelling on the Parkway in a banned vehicle face a traffic ticket, though it is unclear what the exact charge - or penalty - will be.