Troublesome West Scranton bridge picks up another sign

Sep. 4—State Sen. Marty Flynn sounds ready to try a novel warning to keep trucks from getting stuck under a West Scranton railroad bridge again.

Like maybe a sign similar to the kind found at amusement park rides — one that says, "You have to be this tall to ride this bridge."

"For 30 years, since I was a kid, that's been happening," Flynn, 47, said.

Over and over, truck drivers have ignored clearly posted warning signs on both approaches to the North Main Avenue bridge, signs that say the bridge clearance height is 12 feet, 8 inches. When it happens, a stuck truck backs up traffic in both directions.

The state Department of Transportation thinks maybe an electronic sign would work better. So staff set one up on the northbound approach, where most of the trouble occurs, on Aug. 16.

It says "12FT, 8IN, CLEAR. 450 FT." The bridge is next to a McDade Expressway bridge over North Main.

Flynn credited PennDOT for reacting swiftly to his request for action, though three conventional signs already warn drivers from both approaches.

"These truck drivers, they're using GPS," PennDOT spokeswoman Jessica Ruddy said. "They're not paying attention. They're not looking at size of their tractor-trailer. And they keep hitting the bridges."

Ruddy surmises drivers think they have more room than the sign says. All the signs say the clearance height is 12 feet, 8 inches, but maybe drivers think they have a buffer as in other states, she said.

"Now, do I think that's the problem?" she said. "No, they're not paying attention. And honestly, they probably really just don't care."

The problem is "definitely a safety concern."

"So we're doing our part trying to do anything we can," she said.

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