For the second time in as many days, a semi truck got stuck under the overpass leading to Edmonton’s High Level Bridge Wednesday.
“It was almost like, ‘is this really happening? Is this déjà vu? Is this re-living yesterday?’ But no, it was two separate incidents,” Brock Harrison said. “It’s crazy.”
Two weeks ago, Harrison moved into a new office on the eighth floor of the Ledgeview building, right at the corner of 97 Avenue and 110 Street. The office has a perfect view of the High Level Bridge.
“Yesterday the guy, he must have been going really fast because he wedged himself under there and couldn’t get out,” Harrison recalled. “Today, he must have been going a little slower because he hit and he smashed.
“We all gathered around the window and he booked it… he backed out, back around that corner, right under the underpass, never to be seen or heard of again.”
“It’s probably not good for the guy who does it or the people who own the trucks, but like I say… it’s kind of an office thing now. We’ve started a little tally on our white board: number of trucks who’ve hit the bridge since we’ve moved in.”
The overpass, which is used by the historic streetcar, has a clearance of 3.2 metres.
While there are signs advising large vehicles about the height restriction, it’s not uncommon to see a truck lodged under the bridge’s entrance, blocking traffic and causing frustration for more than a few people.
“There’s already a ton of signage,” Mayor Don Iveson said.
“There’s already chains hanging down. I don’t know how you could hit all that and not hit the bridge.”
“Every once in a while, people send around the picture of that giant sign that says: ‘If you hit this sign, you will hit that bridge,'” the mayor said. “We may need to put an even bigger sign up.”
“There’s no doubt, it’s a huge inconvenience for Edmontonians when this happens,” Iveson added.
In 2015, Edmonton police responded 25 times to oversized vehicles blocking the High Level Bridge. In 23 of the incidents, the driver stopped the vehicle before hitting the bridge and only required help from police to back out. In one incident, a driver was handed a ticket for failure to obey a traffic control.
The 109 Street approach has been recently upgraded. City crews added new signs and height warning systems. The 97 Avenue approach will be upgraded in 2017.
In total, there are currently 12 signs and height indicators on the two different bridge approaches.
Those who drive trucks for a living say you just have to know your route and pay attention to signs.
“What are they watching for? They’re not watching for what they should be,” driver Neal Roehl said. “You should be looking for your routes…the thoroughfares, the construction, the height restrictions.
“Unfortunately, rarely is it anybody’s fault than the person who didn’t pay attention,” Roehl added.
He said trucks get stuck under the High Level Bridge “too often” but clarified he’s never been one of them.
“Trucks have to be downtown… they have to get across the river… The High Level Bridge is just one of those bridges that trap people… It’s kind of a phenoma. I don’t know how to fix that.”
Grade 3 student Jacob Molzan, who loves bridges, has a suggestion.
“Don’t ram into stuff when you’re driving!”