Truck hits bridge and one resident wants changes

I didn’t know this, but apparently it’s not uncommon for trucks to hit the low bridge on River Street (Route 85) near the commuter rail station. Southborough resident John Kendall who lives on nearby Cottage Street says he always hears them when they hit. When a too-tall box truck struck the bridge last week, Kendall said “It made a hell of a bang.”

Fire Chief John Mauro said the Fire Department wasn’t called to respond to the incident, so apparently no one was injured in the crash. And while that’s a good thing, Kendall wonders how long before someone does get hurt.

In a public letter, Kendall urged Southborough selectmen and safety officials to come up with a plan to better warn truckers and prevent future accidents. You can read his full letter after the jump.

Not that this is headline news or anything, but once again, early this afternoon (Thursday April 16th), a truck heading south on Route 85 hit the railroad bridge that goes over River Street near the T Commuter Rail Station.  Of course it was a box truck, just a little bit too tall to fit under the bridge.  And of course it made a hell of a bang when it hit (I can ALWAYS hear them when they hit).  The driver was lucky and was able to back the damaged truck out and pull into a nearby parking lot.  He did a lot of damage to the upper front of the box. This all happened without injuries, with very little insult to traffic, and with newly minted silver marks from his truck permanently embedded on the bridge.  Eventually the broken pieces were placed into the box, and the truck was towed off into the sunset.

The real point is that the bridge gets hit on a fairly regular basis.  Nobody has been severely injured that I know of, however when it happens, it typically messes traffic up as this is a busy area, and more importantly, it not only threatens the bridge structure, but the railroad tracks above.  One of these days, a real disaster is going to strike, and it is going to create some real problems for traffic, residents, and most importantly, could endanger trains passing over the bridge, especially passenger trains.

There is signage in the area stating the height of the bridge as 11 feet.  There also used to be protective barriers on each side of the bridge structure that were supposed to prevent vehicels from striking the actual bridge deck.  The barriers were ruined after several hits, and have since been removed.

I guess the question really is; “how long do we let this go before someone gets killed?” Seriously, it’s going to happen someday because someone in a truck was moving right along on Route 85 and either didn’t notice, or paid no attention to the signs, and slammed their too tall truck under the bridge.  I think it is way beyond time to look at the problem.  If you drive on Route 30 into Westborough, they have signage that starts at Lyman Street warning truckers of the low bridge that carries the railroad over Route 30 near Bay State Commons.  The signage was redesigned after numerous truck accidents.  They even have signs in the French language for truckers from Quebec.

I think it is time that the Board of Selectmen get together with Interim Police Chief Jane Moran, Fire Chief John Mauro (a certified train buff by the way), DPW Superintendent Karen Galligan, MassHiway, and CSX to develop a plan to alert truckers in a better way before they get to that bridge.  In my opinion, there have been too many truck accidents at the bridge, and something needs to be corrected in order to prevent a tragedy.

John Kendall
Cottage Street

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Papa Rosa
14 years ago

Look, nobody’s going to get killed at that bridge – that’s silly hyperbole. Even the jackass drivers who try to make it realize it’s a *very* tight squeeze, so their speed is extremely low by the time they hit.

I suppose there’s no harm in adding an additional sign or two, but as far as I know they haven’t invented a sign that can raise an idiot’s IQ.

14 years ago

Actually, some hit it at a very high speed. The problem is that it is not usually “truck drivers.” They know to look for height signage along the road. Nine times out of ten it is some poor slob who rented a Hetz or Rider truck for the day to do some hauling. He or she doesn’t think or know to look for “low bridge” signs and hits it at full speed after going through the intersection at 85 and Southville Road. I have seen trucks with almost the entire top of the cargo area peeled back like a tin can. The poor driver is then responsible for I-don’t-know-how-much damage to a rental truck. I always feel really sorry for them. I have rented that kind of truck in the past and am not sure I would think to look for or notice “low bridge” signs. And, by the way, I am far from an idiot.

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