Mark Frauenfelder at 10:30 am Wed, Oct 31, 2012
This badass bridge has its own website.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His latest book is Made by Hand: My Adventures in the World of DIY
Fun facts about the mosquito
What we really feel when we feel "cold"
Do people just not know how tall their trucks are?
A fair number of rentals there, so yes, but also I get the feeling 11′ 8″ is kind of an asshole height for a rail bridge: almost all of these trucks look like they’re about 12′ even in height.
That makes sense for the rentals, but not all those were rentals, to be fair. Plus, do they tell you how tall it is when you rent it? I’ve never rented a truck, so I have no clue on this. :-(
Every box truck I’ve ever rented has had the clearance height clearly labelled in about five places. Usually including the dashboard right above the speedometer.
Hm. So, are people just not paying attention, I wonder?
Considering that the bridge is heavily signposted for several blocks previous and has big flashing lights that go on if you are over the height limit, yes, “not paying attention” would be a safe bet.
This is why, when I rent a moving truck, I get somebody better than me to drive it and take every extra insurance policy available. I am acutely aware of where my strengths and weaknesses lie.
True story: get some friends to help me move, rent a UHaul, schlep all my worldly possessions down three flights of stairs and half a block in the rain into this thing. Takes us hours. I refuse to drive those things, so hand the keys to one of my friends. He pulls the emergency brake cord…and it comes off in his hands.
UHaul tells me that I have to come back to their lot downtown and get another truck. Practically in tears at the prospect of rehauling all that crap my other friend goes at the brake mechanism with his knife and manages to dislodge it.
We take off, head down admittedly a fairly steep street, and the friend driving says, “I think the brakes may be a little squishy — how fast would you say we’re going?”
“15, 20 miles an hour? Why.”
“I’m standing on the brakes.”
And then we were on the freeway. It’s been made abundantly clear to me that I’ll never receive help moving again.
My roommates and I moved out of an eleven-room, two-story flat that we had been filling with stuff for more than five years. Got the biggest truck they had. Filled it. It wouldn’t start. Very cranky. It was my thirtieth birthday, too.
Actually, at 0:47 it looks like the truck wins.
What is that wooden catwalk thing about?
Drainage chute? Looks like a flume.
I think it’s a big steel I-beam that they put up in front of the bridge to protect it from impact.
So, are most trucks built for a 12 foot clearance? For the trucks that only got peach-fuzzed were their tires under-inflated?
Most are between 11 and 13 feet.
The schadenfreude is strong.
Obligatory FAQ summary for those too ADD to look into it:
Nobody is interested in fixing the situation because it costs more to fix than the appropriate parties think it is worth and the drivers are the ones who absorb most of the costs of the impacts.
Good thing I took my pill this morning.
Only one? I’m on number four already.
You have to wonder why the city doesn’t lower the road deck going under the bridge by a foot, which would fix the problem…
That’s what I was thinking too but I guess the answer is: see the above comment.
There are apparently water and sewer mains under it, and one or so crashed truck per month isn’t worth the couple of million dollars it would take to redo everything that’s under the road and regrade it, I guess.
According to the website FAQ: “Can’t the road be lowered?
That would be prohibitively expensive because a sewer main runs just a few feet below the road bed. That sewer main also dates back about a hundred years and, again, at the time there were no real standards for minimum clearance for railroad underpasses.”
Looking at Google maps/streetview I would have thought a better solution would be to post the stop signs at that intersection on Gregson Street rather than Peabody Street. That would force the drivers to come to a halt and thus they would not be at full speed when hurtling into the bridge, and they might even get an extra couple of seconds to wonder “Hey why is that light flashing”
Here’s a better idea: lower the *bridge*. These drivers think they’re just short enough to scooch under a 11’8″ bridge. Fill the bridge out so it’s only 10′ above the road and they might get the point.
nanny state at its best, lol
This was like watching trucks getting kicked in the nuts, Idiocracy style.
I went to college in that town and I never heard about that bridge.
I used to work in Durham, and had to drive under that section of the bridge five times a week. I got pretty used to having to ease through the unobstructed lane (or in worse cases, find an alternate route) every so often. What the video doesn’t capture, unfortunately, is the array of emotions that you could see on the faces of the various drivers of the unlucky trucks. I imagine that the only thing worse than wedging a truck under the bridge is being forced to stand there and be judged by a parade of rubbernecking traffic.
I wonder if they could rig the bridge to play some loud obnoxious game show music whenever it’s been hit.
Boston/Cambridge has like 6 of these, all along Storrow and Memorial drive. As one rental truck center guy explained to me “Don’t bring it back with no gas, they’ll charge you an arm and a leg. Don’t bring it back full, they won’t give you your money back. And don’t take it on Storrow, or they won’t give you your damage deposit back.”
Storrow Drive is especially nasty, because that’s the road Mom and Dad are used to driving on when they visit Junior at one of Boston’s many fine colleges. So when it comes time to move Junior out of the dorms… boom.
There used to be an annual radio contest to see who could guess exactly when the first U-Haul would get stuck under a Storrow Drive overpass during student moving season. It was called “Big Bucks for Stuck Trucks.”
“D’ja getcher truck stuck?”
“No, I was delivering this bridge here and RAN OUTTA GAS.”
”Here’s your sign”
Yup. Right next to MIT, there’s a 9-foot-2-inch clearance underpass on Memorial drive. With the enormous numbers of students moving every summer and fall, many driving their own UHaul or equivalent when they haven’t driven anything for months, the underpass is notorious for killing rental trucks. The rental agencies warn people, but the warnings don’t always take.
Why don’t they just add dangling horizontal signs/beams, like the ones you see in parking garages, on both sides of the bridge so that drivers will at least receive an audio cue (the sign/beam smacking into the truck) and have time to jam on the brakes before more serious damage is done to the vehicle?
I wanted to give you a Google Street view of the Iowa Avenue bridge in Iowa City, but that interface doesn’t seem too happy with me today. If you can go there yourself, you’ll see a set of chains hanging down about a 100 feet in front of a similar low bridge. I worked in the building on the south side of the street, looking out at the bridge, and the chains may have stopped one truck in the 5+ years I was there. But several would hit every moving season. So maybe it stopped 1 in 15, which I guess is worthwhile, but still not the deterrent you’d think. I imagine the driver was still thinking “What was that loud noise?” just as the louder collision occurred. And, as it seems in this video, most of those drivers were going over the posted speed limit.
I suppose I’m overestimating the attentiveness of drivers who are clearly inattentive to begin with.
From the FAQ:
A low clearance bar is a bar suspended by chains ahead of the bridge. Overheight vehicles hit that bar first and the noise alerts the driver to to the problem. I understand that this approach has been successful in other places, but it’s not practical here. There are many overheight trucks that have to be able to drive right up to the bridge and turn onto Peabody St. in order to deliver supplies to several restaurants. Making Peabody St inaccessible from Gregson St would make the restaurant owners and the delivery drivers very unhappy.
Ahh, my bad for only watching the video and not going to the site. That would complicate things.
I was going to suggest sensors/electric eyes, but according to the FAQ they have those in place too.
My favorite part is when the second truck with bales of hay follows right through. Although the truck driver who comes to a stop on first impact and then decides to keep going is pretty good too.
I was waiting to see if someone else noticed that. The second hay truck MUST have seen what happened to the first. I can just imagine him in there shrugging his shoulders with a “Meh” and plowing on through. After all, it’s just hay – not actually the top of his truck.
I told myself I wasn’t going to laugh…”You’ve seen this already” I thought… As soon as the Rocky theme hit it was all funny again…Thank’s Internet, for the lol’s.
someone with skillz needs to do a dubstep remix a la Call of Duty youtubes around this.
Okay, I didn’t understand at first that one hay truck could get topped and the guy in the hay truck following right behind wouldn’t stop, but then I looked where the bridge is. I’ve spent a bit of time in Durham and now I understand.
Why not JUST FIX THE BRIDGE??? Until then, post a few large signs of trucks’ tops being stripped by it.
It is obvious that posting the height and the existing warnings are not enough. Another solution would be to have a mechanical warning, like a sign which would (non-destructively) hit any truck which would not fit underneath the bridge.
They “fixed” the bridge by erecting a steel I-beam “protector” in front of the bridge. It takes the impact instead and does a REALLY good job of sardine-canning the trucks. Better than the bridge ever did.
I’d love it if they’d make a sign that spins around when hit, ideally with some pinball machine music and some flashing lights.
That bridge is an asshole
No it ain’t! It’s just sitting there, minding its own business, holding up the tracks so that not every vehicle has to divert or detour around it. It can’t help it if vehicles are now taller than they were when it was built.
“Hey! I’m spanning here! I’m spanning here!”
As was pointed out the last time this bridge was features on BoingBoing http://boingboing.net/2010/08/28/videos-of-11-foot-8.html , what this bridge really needs is a waterfall triggered by the height sensor, with the word “STOP” projected on it at night like the Sydney Harbour Tunnel does.
Whoa, that’s really cool.
This is why Ryder and Penske don’t rent to people off the street anymore (just lease customers) Too many trucks coming back damaged. Much worse when they were 4 speed shift’s, shot tranny’s all the time.
Ryder and Penske were used in hate crimes?
“Ryder and Penske don’t rent to people off the street anymore (just lease customers)”
I don’t understand what this means. Are you talking about renting through franchise-ish or affiliate locations? I rented within the last year and had a pretty great experience with Penske and didn’t get any implied paranoia about truck damage.
One thing you don’t get in the video is how loud tearing the roof off a truck is.
It is very loud.
The most puzzling crash was what appeared to be a city bus. This begs a couple questions… Is this a regular bus route? A substitute driver? A substitute bus taller than normal. Or do they just tear up buses all day long, every day?
There was a double-decker bus in my area of London that lost its roof on a bridge. Due to damage from a fire in Camden Market, the route had been diverted to pass under an arched railway bridge. The bus had enough clearance to pass under the arch if it drove through the middle, but the driver went through the edge instead…
And buses getting lost (due to substitute drivers usually) isn’t that uncommon.
Judging from the (lack of) markings, I’d say that was a tour bus, rather than a regular city bus.
We have a bridge like that here, constantly eating U-Hauls and other stuff that the college students drive to bring their junk here. Famously killed a local English pub/bar’s double decker “bar crawl” bus… twice.
Brilliant video. Music + smashed trucks = LOL
I remember a bridge like that when I lived around Scranton, PA. The height was marked, but the bridge was right at the bottom of an abrupt steep hill, so if you had a long truck, well, it was an interesting geometry problem, with your front tires on the level and the rear tires still elevated on the hill.
Crime spotted: At 0:32 the driver of a blue car throws a can or coffee cup out of the window.
If you lived in the Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill area you would understand. There are many drivers who sit on railroad crossings at red lights, stop in the middle of traffic circles and generally lack the ability to drive.
The sign said 11’8, but I didn’t see any cops around…
I agree with pics of trucks being destroyed. Lets say three pictures on the bridge itself of the smaller just-big-enough RVs and Trucks just before they hit the bridge and a message “do you know your vehicle height?”. Maybe two pics of small vehicles and one pic of a bigger vehicle too.
Or show just after they hit the bridge for shock value (possibly at the risk of good PR for the bridge).
Target the smaller vehicles. The bigger RVs and Truck owners won’t need to be rocket scientists to see it applies to them too.
This is a lesson in human psychology, and doing the best for the greater good (not just self interest of the bridge owner / city council / etc)… if the signs don’t work, make a better sign.
Mail (will not be published) (required)