Syracuse Megabus Overpass Collision — Was It the County’s Fault?

The Syracuse Post Standard just published another online article about the recent fatal Megabus accident near Syracuse, in Salina, New York. The top of the double-decker bus collided with a CSX railroad bridge over Onondaga Lake Parkway. The Post Standard pointed out that this 10-foot-9-inch clearance “is notorious for getting hit by tall vehicles” despite the “warning signs and flashing lights”. At about 13 feet tall, the bus did not fit under the railroad bridge.

What follows all comes from some good investigative journalism by the Syracuse Post Standard: Back in the mid 1990s, then-Onondaga County Legislature chairman Bill Sanford had concerns about the overpass. Today he is quoted as saying, “this [accident] could possibly have been avoided [with] some kind of [better] warning system.” He noted that other communities with similar low overpasses had hung chains across the roadway, at the same height as the bridge, about a half mile or so before the bridge. This created a visible and audible hard-to-ignore “warning” of the oncoming peril. The metal chains clanging against the bus or truck, while causing minimal damage to the vehicle, would serve as a hard-to-ignore warning! Sandford was quoted as saying that “this wasn’t done” and “I don’t know why”.

Good question. Why not? It sounds like an inexpensive way to avoid very expensive, life-destroying accidents. In representing the victims of this tragic bus accident, a Syracuse bus accident attorney would want to investigate the feasibility of implementing such a warning system.

While the bridge is marked by flashing lights and signs, including one that specifies the clearance height, the questions are, “was this enough” and “could the County reasonably have done better?”

Sure, as I stated in a previous blog post, it seems like the bus driver, and by vicarious liability, the bus company, are primarily responsible for ignoring the warnings. But a Syracuse New York bus accident lawyer would be remiss if he or she did not investigate a possible claim against Onondaga County for failure to implement an inexpensive, life-saving warning system.

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