DelDOT’s blunt warning to drivers: ‘Your truck will not fit’
New signage aimed at reducing crashes at Casho Mill Road underpass
City and state officials are hoping that recent changes to warning signs at the Casho Mill Road underpass will help cut down on the number of trucks that hit or get stuck under the low-hanging bridge.
“There are and have been numerous warning signs/beacons present for years that are unfortunately ignored on a regular basis,” Bob King, a spokesman for the Delaware Department of Transportation, said. “We are attempting to make the advanced warning systems more emphatic and noticeable to an increasingly distracted driving population. We suspect that unfamiliar drivers, particularly those moving in and out of UD twice a year, contribute to the issue at this location.”
According to figures from DelDOT, the Casho Mill bridge is the most-struck bridge in the state, with 22 crashes there from 2005 to 2016. The bridge over North Chapel Street is a close second, with 21 crashes. Combined, the two Newark bridges account almost half the bridge strikes in Delaware.
Last week, DelDOT shut down the road for a day while workers replaced the overhead signs and sensor-activated lights that come on when a truck is too tall. The new signs have more prominent lights and carry the message, “Trucks too high when flashing. Use turnout.”
Earlier this year, additional ground signage was installed along the road leading up to the bridge. Some of the signs bluntly warn drivers, “Your truck will not fit.”
Tom Coleman, acting city manager for Newark, said it’s too early to tell if the changes will have an effect but noted he’s received a number of comments about the “Your truck will not fit” signs, proving that at the very least they’re drawing attention.
“It’s noticeable; it’s not something you see all the time,” Coleman said. “We’re hoping it’s successful.”
The real test, he said, will come when University of Delaware students move in next month. Often, the bridge is struck by people driving rented moving trucks.
Coleman said the city and DelDOT have been discussing possible solutions to the problem for a while.
One idea was to install an overhead sign the same height as the bridge reading “If you hit this sign, you’ll hit the bridge.” However, DelDOT had concerns about liability if the sign damaged a truck.
Lowering the road is not an option because of flooding concerns and because the clearance would need to be nearly doubled for all trucks to fit under, Coleman said.
For a long-range solution, DelDOT has asked CSX, which operates the train tracks over the bridge, to investigate the cost of raising the tracks or rerouting train traffic around the city of Newark, Coleman added.
He said that if the new signage is successful, it will be replicated at the North Chapel Street bridge.
“Anything we can do to reduce the number of times those bridges get struck would be a plus,” he said.
Workers install new warning signs at the Casho Mill Road underpass last week.