TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WIVB) — Congressman Brian Higgins, New York State Assemblymember Bill Conrad and City of Tonawanda Mayor John White announced on Thursday morning a $1.2 million infrastructure project to improve safety in the city.

The project will allow for the implementation of a new warning system and detour route to prevent trucks from hitting the CSX rail bridge over Young Street, as 64 trucks have struck the bridge since 2000.

“Time and time again this bridge is hit by high-profile trucks creating safety issues for the community and traffic headaches for travelers,” Higgins said. “Using technology, we can better protect drivers, the neighborhood, and the unobstructed flow of freight and street traffic. This project serves as a long-term solution to a persistent safety issue, as well as an investment in the City of Tonawanda.”

The funding will reportedly support the installation of a over-height vehicle detection system that will be activated to alert truck drivers when a vehicle that doesn’t meet the bridge clearance upon detection. Infrared beams will trigger a message on an electronic sign, and drivers will then be directed to a detour, rather than potentially hitting the bridge ahead. 

Conrad said the signage in existence has not been enough to prevent accidents and said he is happy to see a long-term solution in the works. The project is 100% federally funded, through the National Highway Freight Program.

“This innovative system will help us to decrease the number of accidents at this bridge, preventing the disruption of traffic and allowing our police to focus on our neighborhoods instead of spending time directing traffic around the latest bridge strike,” he said. “I’m thrilled to see Tonawanda on the list of cities that will receive this funding and thankful to Congressman Higgins for his advocacy for our community.”

A recording of the press conference can be watched above.

Adam Duke is a digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2021. See more of his work here.