train trestle

Story Sunday: Can Opener Bridge

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Can Opener Bridge Image One
Photo Credit: Amusing Planet
Photo Author: Mark Clifton
Click for a larger view.

At 11 foot 8 inches [sic], the Norfolk Southern-Gregson Street Overpass, located in Durham, [NC] […], is a bit too short. The federal government recommends that bridges on public roads should have a clearance of at least 14 feet [but], when this railroad trestle was built in the 1940s, there were no standards for minimum clearance. As a result, trucks would frequently hit the bridge and get its roof scrapped [sic] off.

Durhan resident Jürgen Henn has been witnessing these crashes for years from across the street where he worked. Wishing to share these hilarious mishaps with the rest of the world, Henn set up a video camera in April 2008 and began recording them for his ever popular website 11foot8.com. By the end of 2015, more than one hundred trucks had their tops violently ripped off. These scalping videos, which are also available on his YouTube Channel, have racked up millions of views bringing this particular bridge, nicknamed “the can opener”, a fair amount of international fame.

As Jürgen Henn explains in his website [sic], the bridge cannot be raised because doing so would require the tracks to be raised for several miles to adjust the incline. North Carolina Railroad doesn’t want to pay for the enormous expense it would entail. The bridge cannot be lowered either because there is a major sewer line running only four feet under the street.

Can Opener Bridge Image Two
Photo Credit: Amusing Planet
Photo Author: Mark Clifton
Click for a larger view.

Instead, the city authorities installed an alert system that detects when an over-height truck tries to pass under and flashes yellow warning lights several feet ahead of the bridge. [However], many drivers either do not pay attention or fail to heed the warning and crash into the bridge. The railroad department, who owns the bridge, installed a heavy steel crash beam in front of the bridge that takes most of the impact, protecting the actual structure of the train trestle. This crash beam is hit so often that it had to be replaced at least once.

As far as both parties are concerned, the city of Durham and North Carolina Railroad, adequate steps have been taken to solve the problem. The railroad authorities’ concern is with the bridge and the rails above, not the trucks, [hence], the beam. The city, on the other hand, has posted prominent “low clearance” signs from [three] blocks away, leading up to the trestle, over and above the automatic warning system that is triggered by vehicles that are too tall. Apparently, these measures are not enough to prevent accidents. On average there is one crash every month.

When Henn interviewed a few drivers as they deflated their tires to lower their vehicles enough to free them, some told him that they didn’t know their trucks’ heights, while others insisted they didn’t see the signs. Durham officials are now trying out a new tactic. A few months ago, they installed a traffic signal at the intersection before the bridge and hooked up the height sensor to it. When an over-height truck approaches the intersection, the light turns red and stays red for a long time. The light eventually turns green but, the city hopes that the long delay will give the drivers enough time to realize their truck will not fit under the bridge. Unfortunately for the drivers, and to the delight of the rest, the bridge continues to shave the tops of over-height vehicles.

The Infamous Can Opener Bridge
Amusing Planet
Kaushik Patowary
December 17, 2016

I can attest to this bridge, personally. I lived in Durham for two years in the middle 90s. Why those folks don’t turn off onto Peabody Street or Pettigrew Street, coming from the other side, I don’t know. They just plow right under it. It is right behind Brightleaf Square. ~Vic

Jürgen Henn’s Website
Henn’s YouTube Channel

Additional:
11 Feet, 8 Inches… (99% Invisible/Kurt Kohlstedt/08-29-2016)
Durham’s Bridge of Death Will Decapitate Any Tall Truck (Bloomberg/John Metcalfe/10-25-2012)
Trucks Have Hit This Low Bridge More Than 100 Times… (Vox/Timothy B. Lee/01-06-2016)
A Little Off The Top… (Indy Week/Danny Hooley/01-06-2016)
Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass (Wikipedia)

Compilation of Crashes

Shutterbug Saturday: Rogue Artistes 5.0

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It’s been nearly a year since I made my first post on our local artwork. Here are parts two, three and four. I’ve gathered up some more, below. All photos are my personal collection. © ~Vic

Slayer Image One
Somebody is a Slayer fan.
06-23-2019
Pipe Support Image Two
Drainage pipe support.
What the critter is, I don’t know.
07-25-2019
Strange Manhole Image Three
Houie?
Howie?
Wowie?
10-04-2019
Uh Oh Image Four
I don’t even remember where I found this one.
10-10-2019
Footy Prints Image Five
This one was curious.
Captured well after Halloween.
It appears to be prints of a one-legged man?
There’s a foot print and a dot.
What do you think?
11-26-2019
Toast Image Six
Toast?
With a “V”?
This one was hard to get.
02-22-2020

Shutterbug Saturday: Frog Strangler 2.0

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We continue to have stormy, rainy weather and the temperature has dropped, considerably. We traded floods for tornadoes, yesterday. I learned, today, that two small farms south of town were damaged. I have a healthy respect for Mother Nature. ~Vic

See Part I

Rain Storm Image One
Swollen drainage ditch to the river.
This helped flood my neighbor's backyard.
04-13-2019
Rain Storm Image Two
The tiny creek at Turnip Patch Park took out one of the benches.
Rain Storm Image Three
The Riverwalk is to the far right.
The town closed it for a couple of days.
I saw a juvenile garter snake making its way back across the walk when I was out on the third day.
Rain Storm Image Four
Train trestle in the background.
Rain Storm Image Five
The wooden fence is a barrier between Gold Park & the Eno.
Rain Storm Image Six
That is the bridge I was standing on to photograph the Riverwalk & the trestle.