WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Mike Theriault is a driver in Waterbury who has seen the damage firsthand. He calls it, “Brutal.”
Mike tells News 8 he has seen several large tractor-trailers slam into what’s known as the Bank Street Railroad Bridge and get stuck there — literally — with damage.
“When is somebody gonna do something?” he said. “Are they gonna wait until somebody gets hurt critically? Something has to happen out here.”
Mike telling News 8 it seems like this happens “all the time.”
News 8 checked with Waterbury police about the number of incidents. They say it has happened 15 times in 2019; 11 times in 2020. Six times so far this year. No one was hurt in any of these incidents.
But, that doesn’t put the brakes on Mike’s safety concerns.
News 8 asked Waterbury Police Chief Fernando Spagnolo why these incidents are occurring. He told us part of the reason is all of the construction and rehab work going on on a series of highways in Waterbury nicknamed The Mixmaster.
“There have been some detours that have been made because of the construction,” he said. “A lot of that truck traffic was diverted into city streets.”
And that means more large trucks — some have not been able to clear that 12′ 7″ railroad bridge overpass and the bridge strikes started happening.
“At that point we met with Connecticut DOT, MTA Police who are ultimately responsible and have jurisdiction for those bridges,” he said. “We came up with a plan, created some different diversionary routes for commercial traffic, put up more signage.”
Connecticut DOT says that signage includes new, flashing LED lights around the signs that display the maximum height of the Bank Street Bridge.
Mike says he’s seen them.
“There’s so many lights, neon lights,” Mike said.
“That has had some success,” said Chief Spagnolo. “We’ve seen a reduction in bridge strikes but it’s still an issue we have to deal with in Waterbury.”
Waterbury State Rep. Geraldo Reyes has been outspoken for many years regarding the issue of large numbers of tractor trailers roaming through the streets of city neighborhoods due to the construction on The Mixmaster.
“It is very frustrating,” Rep. Reyes said. “Concerning for the damage it could possibly do.”
A spokesman with the Connecticut DOT told News 8 there is multiple, redundant signage to alert truckers in addition to the already-mentioned safety measures. He also says there are signs on the road near the bridge and it appears that truckers are following their GPS more than what’s around them.