Westbury truck into overpass spurs announcement on bridge raising

WESTBURY, Long Island (WABC) -- New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is using an accident that happened Thursday morning to illustrate the need to raise some overpasses.

Cuomo traveled to the scene of a crash in Westbury, where a truck struck a low-lying LIRR overpass at Post and Union avenues around 7 a.m., to announce that the overpass in question will be the first in a series to be raised.

The truck accident delayed LIRR service until engineers could deem the structure safe, and the driver told police he followed his GPS. Now, the LIRR says the overpass will be raised two feet in the next two weeks.

It was previously slated to be raised as part of an MTA project to lift up to a dozen low lying bridges that have frequently been struck by trucks. The agency hopes that a higher clearance will reduce the number of accidents.

The 103-year-old Post Avenue Bridge has a clearance of just 11 feet, 10 inches and is reportedly struck by over-height trucks an average of five to nine times a year. The new bridge will have a 14-foot clearance.

The bridge rebuilding project is also in anticipation of adding a third rail through the area, which the new bridges would be able to handle. A proposed $2 billion LIRR Main Line Expansion project would construct 9.8 miles of new third track between Floral Park and Hicksville, easing the commutes of a half-million LIRR customers daily.

The MTA plans to raise the Post Avenue bridge over a single weekend, without impacting weekday service, as to not jeopardize the LIRR's record on time performances over the past three months.

The overpass is one of a string of century old bridges that have outlived their useful life while providing tractor trailers with a reliable target to strike.
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