Truck-Eating Bridges

Tuesday, July 13th, 2021

Many years ago, I linked to Jürgen Henn’s That’s an entire site dedicated to a noticeably low bridge in Durham, North Carolina, one which oblivious truck drivers frequently fail to clear. A couple years after writing about the bridge, I found myself in Durham, and captured some photographs of the ill-fated area. Despite the fact that this picture looks like I was Photoshopped in, I promise, I was really there:

Alas, I didn’t get to witness any vehicular carnage while I was on-site.

Apparently, in 2019, the bridge was finally raised by eight inches. Raising the bridge has likely reduced the frequency of incidents, but it hasn’t solved the problem fully. Just three weeks later, the first collision with the new bridge happened.

A few weeks ago, posted a new video featuring a “perfect peel”, where the roof of a box truck was stripped off as if the whole thing was built to do just that. It’s terribly satisfying to watch, and I encourage you to do so. Here’s a screengrab:

Here in Boston, we have a crosstown parkway called Storrow Drive. It features several low bridges which cause similar problems, often for students moving around the city in rental trucks. Years ago, I managed to capture a stuck truck mere moments after it had gotten wedged:

[Photo courtesy of P. Kafasis]

While Boston lacks its own site devoted entirely to this phenomenon, local news blog Universal Hub does track the incidents, which we refer to as “Storrowings”. Each occurrence is a bad day for one hapless driver, but there are many, many signs and warnings aimed at preventing this problem. As such, it’s hard to muster up too much sympathy. The innocent folks who find themselves snarled in the resulting traffic are more deserving of pity.

Of course, the fact that these bridges keep taking down trucks tells us that the signs just aren’t enough to prevent the problem. I’d love it if more innovative solutions were tested, such as the SoftStop system from Australia. When needed, it showers down a curtain of water so a ”sign” can be projected right in front of drivers.

For now, though, I expect to see these bridges continuing to feast.

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