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  Public Employee Press

PEP Feb 2004
Table of Contents
  La Voz

Public Employee Press

Changing lanes
Local 1455 members make the morning rush hour on the LIE safer with a new moveable barrier system.


Local 1455 President Mike DeMarco (l.) with crew members who operate Barrier Systems’ movable median vehicle. The TDM crew makes a temporary HOV lane to move motorists safely into Manhattan during the morning rush.


Each weekday before dawn lights the city’s horizon, a bright yellow DOT vehicle snakes along the Long Island Expressway, creating a new traffic lane for the morning rush hour. Traveling at 4 miles per hour, the Barrier Systems vehicle gives the Dept. of Transportation the flexibility to increase the number of inbound lanes without widening the roadway, saving taxpayers tens of millions of dollars.

The machine lays a two-mile spine of concrete barrier segments connected by steel-pinned hinges to securely separate the lane for high occupancy vehicles.

The HOV lane cuts congestion and allows commuters in cars, buses and taxis to whisk into Manhattan during the 7 to 10 a.m. traffic rush.

Ten months ago the DOT invested $4.5 million to expand the HOV lane with Barrier System’s movable medians. Since then, city highway commuters have experienced fewer delays and lower accident risks than before. Previously, Local 1455 members used traffic probes to create the temporary HOV lane.

But some motorists drove through the lane line of probes, resulting in safety hazards for the crew, head-on collisions and three motorist fatalities.

TDM Henry Frey III operates the machinery that moves megatons of concrete and steel barrier for the new HOV lane on the Long Island Expressway.

The Barrier Systems machine is unique — there are only 20 in the world. It takes two of DOT’s Traffic Device Maintainers (TDMs), members of Traffic Employees Local 1455, to drive the vehicle, which has steering wheels at opposite ends.

Using a complex system of computers, hydraulics, a thin blue guideline and walkie-talkies for constant communication and coordination, the men shift the movable concrete median with ease. TDMs John Ruhwedel, Joe Miller, Henry Frey III, Steve Eyring and supervisor George Bruno shift the LIE lane daily.

The TDM crew makes a temporary HOV lane to move motorists safely into Manhattan during the morning rush.

The New York State Dept. of Transportation In-House Structures Unit designed the project and purchased the machinery and barriers, and construction personnel trained the DOT crew on its operation.

“The new barrier system is much safer for our men, because it prevents vehicles in the temporary HOV lane from crossing into the oncoming traffic,” said Local 1455 President Michael DeMarco.

— Diane S. Williams









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