DelDOT’s blunt warn­ing to driv­ers: ‘Your truck will not fit’

New sig­nage aimed at re­duc­ing crashes at Casho Mill Road un­der­pass

Newark Post - - LOCAL NEWS - By JOSH SHAN­NON Jshan­non@ches­pub.com

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.

NE­WARK POST PHOTO BY JOSH SHAN­NON

Work­ers in­stall new warn­ing signs at the Casho Mill Road un­der­pass last week.

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