Delaware City Council could take action today that could correct a concern for some truck drivers traveling on State Route 37 — the “can opener.”
Council will consider whether the city manager should enter into an agreement with the Ohio Department of Transportation to secure $215,000 in Federal Highway Administration safety funds to install a height warning system near the CSX railroad bridge on West Central Avenue. The system is said to be the first of its kind in the state.
The 12-foot, 7-inch bridge, between Morning Street and Euclid Avenue, is known locally as the “can opener,” because tall semi-truck drivers that ignore the current signs get the tops of their trailers torn off.
“Since 2010, the bridge has been struck 28 times by over-height vehicles resulting in extensive damage to trucks, city-maintained signage, long delays to motorists due to road and/or lane closures and excessive costs incurred by the city of Delaware for emergency response and debris clean-up,” states a fact sheet prepared for council.
City police have also been forced to spend time helping trucks back up after they have gone past the Morning and Euclid turnaround points but stopped before hitting the bridge.
“In the past five years, the police department has assisted 71 over-height vehicles,” the fact sheet said.
The laser-operated system would be placed in advance of the bridge to reduce collisions and turnarounds. When a vehicle is detected that is taller than the low-clearance bridge, it activates a series of message signs to warn the driver and direct him to an alternate route.
“Also part of this project is upgrading/revising the truck route signage currently in place and the removal of overgrown vegetation to allow for visibility of all signage,” the fact sheet said.
Earlier this year, the city’s public works/public utilities committee recommended applying to ODOT for a grant for the project. The grant was awarded, “based on the technical analysis and accident history,” said the fact sheet.
Other alternatives were considered, such as lowering Central Avenue underneath the bridge, but it was considered too expensive and require road closures.
If approved, the installation could begin next summer.
Council’s meeting today starts at 7 p.m. in the second-floor council chambers of City Hall, 1 S. Sandusky St.