TxDOT installing low bridge warning system near downtown Austin

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | 2/4/2016

Drivers going through Austin, Texas, on Interstate 35 will be getting a fair warning of a low bridge. The Texas Department of Transportation will be installing a bridge protecting warning system that will alert truckers of an upcoming low bridge, a TxDOT spokesperson confirmed to Land Line.

Detection systems will be placed along southbound I-35 between Airport Boulevard and Riverside Drive to warn trucks of one of downtown Austin’s lowest bridges near the Cesar Chavez neighborhood. According to TxDOT spokesperson Kelli Reyna, the bridge has a height of 14 feet and sits in the heart of downtown Austin. It has been struck on at least two occasions.

Drivers operating a truck with a height just under 14 feet and above will trigger the system. Trucks that are not legally considered oversize could still be in danger. The legal height limit of a vehicle in Texas is 14 feet, so trucks just under the limit may not clear the bridge.

Three locations on I-35 southbound will install the warning system: just north of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard; just south of 11th Street; and at the 6th Street on-ramp. Sensors will be placed on either side of the interstate. When an overheight truck drives past, the sensors will activate roadway signs with beacons to warn the driver. TxDOT’s traffic management center and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles will also be alerted of a potential crash.

Currently a pilot program, if the warning system at Cesar Chavez proves to be a success, more detection systems may be installed in central Texas, Reyna said. Additional locations have not been chosen, but TxDOT is looking into possible expansion.

Funded by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Commercial Vehicle Information Systems and Networks grant, the project will cost approximately $400,000. Work begins in February and is scheduled to be completed later this summer.

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