Sensors offer advanced warning for truckers at some overpasses

AUSTIN (KXAN) – Crashes like the one Thursday in Salado impact not just human lives, but the economy. A transportation expert estimates the bridge crash cost millions of dollars in lost productivity.

But new technology already in place is aimed at preventing this kind of crash from happening.

“Interstate 35 is a main artery, there’s an economic cost,” said University of Texas transportation researcher, Robert Harrison. The delay in time, fuel consumed and congestion all adds up.

And oversized trucks hitting bridges is an ongoing problem, he added.

“Sometime it’s a scrape under bridge, sometime it hits the first beam but structure is fine, needs to be repaired. Sometimes, it’s more serious.”

Some of the more problematic bridges have warning devices.

“It has sensors on the road and will sense height of vehicle for upcoming bridge,” said trucker Jason Carter, who was delayed by about an hour on Thursday because of the crash. “If you’re over that (height), it will trigger height warning signs, and lights will start flashing and driver should be aware.”

A similar device in Columbus, Texas, starts flashing if a truck hits a sensor, warning trucks to get off the highway. The device was installed by the Electrotechnics Corporation out of Marshall.

However, these devices are pricey, and that is why there are few in the area. The best precaution is for drivers to know their route before getting on the road.

UT transportation officials estimate 16,000 trucks cross under the bridge in Salado every day.

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