The Hamptons Municipal Board unveiled plans Friday to install false bridges throughout the region near overpasses and train trestles. The “soft” bridges are designed to stop drivers of tall vehicles from striking real, low hanging overpasses around the region. By hitting the soft bridges first, drivers will catch their mistake before causing costly damage to actual bridges and long disruptions in vehicular flow and rail service.
Soft bridges will serve no transportation function. Rather, they will alert truck and moving van drivers that a “hard” bridge is ahead, and convince the motorists it is in their best interest to stop, turn around, and find another route.
“Motorists have shown again and again that they do not take ‘Low Bridge’ and ‘Maximum Height’ warning signs seriously,” Hamptons Mayor James Hamilton stated at Friday’s board meeting. “Either that, or they fail to notice the numerous signs. Well, these soft bridges can’t be overlooked or ignored.”
The bridges are manufactured with brightly colored vinyl fabric, and inflated, much like the “bouncy castles” rented for children’s birthday parties, Hamilton explained.
Each soft bridge costs $1,700, and an inflator is an additional $275. While bridges will usually need to be replaced after an impact, the inflators will be set off the roadway and are not expected to sustain damage during bridge strikes. Therefore, the inflators will not need to be replaced frequently, as is expected for the bridges, Hamilton noted.
While $1,700 is nothing to sneeze at, soft bridge strikes will be significantly less expensive and less inconvenient than any hard bridge strike.
“We expect these to be less controversial than red-light cameras,” Hamilton added.
The first soft bridge has been placed at the North Main Street overpass in Southampton and more should be appearing soon at locations around the Hamptons.