Some bridges just weren’t designed for big trucks, resulting in dangerously low clearances beneath them. The following are just a few of the most unforgiving overpasses that drivers shouldn’t underestimate.
Independence Avenue Bridge (Kansas City, Missouri)
This bridge has been notoriously dangerous to tractor-trailer drivers for years. They routinely get pinned under the 12-foot-high railroad overpass in the Wilson Road area on Kansas City’s northeast side.
In November, it happened three times in a five-day period, according to KCTV news. A box truck driver as well as two semi drivers — one for Sysco, the other TransAm — were the unfortunate victims. The TransAm semi was torn apart and partially flipped over.
Kansas City’s Public Works Department has spent thousands of dollars on signage to warn people about the low bridge. The Kansas City Terminal Railway, which owns the bridge, has spent close to $100,000 over the last decade on repairs and signage. The two large yellow signs sitting atop the bridge apparently do not give truckers enough notice.
“It’s just a big ole boom,” Eddie Mousallet told WDAF news earlier this month. Mousallet owns the Express Stop gas station near the bridge. “There’s nothing telling them until they get to the bridge that you have to be 12 feet and under.”
The bridge, built in 1912, was originally designed for horses and buggies, not cars and trucks. Railway and road officials said lowering Wilson Road would be difficult because the space underneath that section of Independence Avenue contains water and sewer lines. They said they can’t raise the bridge because the railroad tracks are already elevated. Any effort to significantly alter the structure would come at a massive cost.
Gregson Street overpass (Durham, North Carolina)
For well over a decade, this bridge at the intersection of South Gregson and West Peabody streets in Durham’s Brightleaf neighborhood has been known worldwide for its transportation carnage. The bridge, which originally had a clearance of only 11 feet, 8 inches, has been nicknamed “The Can Opener” and the “Gregson Street Guillotine” due to the number of heavy-duty vehicles it has decapitated.
A man named Jürgen Henn set up cameras from his office window so he could record the trucks and buses that so often meet their demise. Since 2008, Henn’s cameras have recorded almost 200 collisions with the protective steel barrier at the crucial rail crossing.
Signs and sensors haven’t helped. In October 2019, the bridge was raised 8 inches, giving it a clearance of 12 feet, 4 inches. But even that hasn’t been enough to allow all trucks to pass safely under the bridge.
Storrow Drive overpass (Boston)
Storrow Drive — a scenic roadway that parallels the Charles River — has notoriously low overpasses, which makes it impossible to drive large moving trucks down it without them getting stuck or shredding their roofs to smithereens. This happens most often at the beginning of the school year when students try to move into their dorms at the many Boston-area colleges.
“College students: When we say we hope your school year starts with a bang, we don’t mean your truck’s roof hitting the bottom of a bridge,” Massachusetts State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin said in August 2018. “So please play it smart on move-in day, pay attention to the maximum height signs and have a great semester.”
When a truck gets pinned and damaged by this infamous overpass, people call it “getting Storrowed.” Boston city officials want everyone to know that Storrow Drive can’t handle moving trucks. They tweeted the following on the city’s account in August 2018: “Repeat after us: You cannot drive a moving truck on Storrow Drive. You cannot drive a moving truck on Storrow Drive. You cannot drive a moving truck on Storrow Drive.”
If it can’t handle moving trucks, it can’t handle tractor-trailers. So all semi drivers beware next time you head to Beantown.