Updated 05/28/2011 10:01 AM
Proposed changes to Onondaga Lake Parkway
In addition to some immediate fixes, a report out this week suggests a future that could look very different for Onondaga Lake Parkway. A lot of people say they've seen a lot of trucks crash into the low-clearance bridge there over the years, including a fatal Megabus accident last year. Our Kat De Maria tells us what they think about the proposed changes.
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LIVERPOOL, N.Y. -- The experts on Onondaga Lake Parkway are the people who drive, bike and walk it and have for a long time.
"We've been coming here since I was seven-years-old. So yes, I'm very familiar with the parkway," said Midge Trudeau of Phoenix.
...And its worst problem, the low-clearance bridge.
"I think it would be more comfortable if people didn't have to worry about trucks getting their tops sliced off under that bridge," Trudeau said.
"It's been going on since I was a kid. I can remember 50 years it's been going on," said Bob Donohue of Syracuse.
Last summer, a Megabus crashed into the bridge, killing four people. And officials decided enough was enough. They asked state transportation leaders to make changes.
The first were extending the 30 mph section of the parkway, making existing signs more visible, adding more and putting rumble strips along the median. But the experts say they had some more ideas.
"Put up a traffic light and a sensor on both sides so they stop all the traffic when it's too high," Donohue said.
"Something where bells go off or something to alert the people they're going to a 10'9" bridge," said Sam LaRose, owner of Juanita's Mexican Kitchen on Old Liverpool Road.
A DOT report out this week recommended just that: A sensor system, as well as a ban on trucks from the parkway.
"I think that would be fair. That seems the fairest that I've read," Trudeau said.
The report considered other alternatives like raising the bridge or lowering the road. Transportation officials found these suggestions everyone's heard before to be unfeasible. And the people we spoke with say they're not surprised.
"You think CSX is going to raise that bridge? No," Donohue said.
"No, I think that's a bit overboard," Trudeau said.
Long-term fixes officials say might be feasible are reducing the number of lanes on Onondaga Lake Parkway or changing the Route 370 designation over to Old Liverpool Road, which could mean more traffic there.
"I don't think it's going to do much if they divert it. Whatever problems they have over here, except for the bridge of course, we're going to have traffic problems over there," said Giovanni DeLeon, who works at Heid's.
Businesses like Heid's and Juanita's say they don't mind having a few more, or even possibly less, passersby.
"The traffic is great. That's what we need. The more the merrier I guess. I don't have a problem with that. I think that'll work," LaRose said.
State transportation officials say they'll seek guidance on the more permanent changes to Onondaga Lake Parkway's future from the people for whom the road has been a part of their past.