Bridget has a Taste for Trucks
July 31, 2022 9:12 PM   Subscribe

Carte Blanch: What the Truck Bridget is a great favourite in my neighbourhood. Despite the fact that she regularly disrupts traffic, people always take her side against the trucks.

I've witnessed her in action, chomping down on a truck with a resonant boom. I feel sorry for the drivers, it must be a horrible experience to come to such an unexpected and abrupt stop.

There is a whole little community of homeless people living under Bridget. Some of them get interviewed in this documentary, which is my favourite part.
posted by Zumbador (34 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's fun watching all those trucks getting Storrowed!
posted by aubilenon at 9:26 PM on July 31 [7 favorites]


Bridget should meet Montague.
posted by Thella at 11:06 PM on July 31 [4 favorites]


The Can Opener in Durham has its own website and documentary.
posted by adept256 at 11:20 PM on July 31 [3 favorites]


🎶I want you to park that big Mack truck right in this little garage🎶
posted by adept256 at 11:23 PM on July 31 [1 favorite]


The Can Opener in Durham has its own website and documentary.
(@0.47sec) "Fuck!"
posted by Thella at 11:27 PM on July 31


Watching this I couldn't help wondering how many collision impacts the bridge is built to withstand. I know they've put up signs but I'm kind of surprised no one's tried marking the actual bridge with "TRUCK EATER" in big flashing neon letters or something.

Do GPS apps let you input vehicle height or weight to get usable routes? Are there any special GPS apps for truckers?
posted by trig at 2:01 AM on August 1


There's probably a good reason why they're not doing that, but seeing their fancy laser height detection system getting ignored I think they should have a sacrificial metal rod or length of chain strung across the road at bridge height a few meters before a truck is actually stuck under there.
posted by each day we work at 2:18 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


I recall when we were picking up a rental truck in some town in rural Georgia or Tennessee, the agent gave us an oft-photocopied map and used a highlighter to circle a bridge on it and said something like, "your gps may tell you to take this route, but the truck you have rented will not fit under this bridge, and if you try to drive under the bridge anyway, your damage waiver will not apply, and you will be liable, personally, for the damage to the truck. Do you understand what I am saying?"
posted by seanmpuckett at 5:04 AM on August 1 [16 favorites]


We have our own here in milwaukee. Does every town have a can opener? i’ve driven some biggish trucks, just short of CDL required before, and when i wasn’t worrying about turning radius the only thing on my mind was bridge heights. No idea why that isn’t the case for anyone else driving a truck like that
posted by dis_integration at 5:04 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


each day we work: the Montague Street Bridge in Melbourne, Australia had a baffle installed in 2016 after years of trucks colliding with it.

Not only did the baffle not stop trucks crashing into the bridge, one crashes into the bridge while the linked YouTuber is filming his documentary.
posted by davidwitteveen at 5:08 AM on August 1 [10 favorites]


Related: 11'8" (+8), also known as The Can Opener.
posted by I-Write-Essays at 5:16 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


There's probably a good reason why they're not doing that,

It’s called “the normalization of deviance”.

So many modern systems come with so many safety margins and affordances that you can, and every day people do, get away with skirting the edges of safety because that’s not really where the edge is.

I think it’s healthy to keep a few artefacts like this around in the world, where the only impact is to the material, not to the human. Just to remind people that these things have teeth, and that if you fuck around enough you will - eventually - find out.
posted by mhoye at 5:45 AM on August 1 [5 favorites]


There's a bridge like that in Sealy, Tx, I think. They have lengths of chains dangling in front of it to warn drivers who ignore the copious signage. I think it works, but haven't been there in ages.
posted by Spike Glee at 6:22 AM on August 1


Do GPS apps let you input vehicle height or weight to get usable routes? Are there any special GPS apps for truckers?

Trucker GPS systems let you put in height, weight, length, and number of trailers to avoid going on routes you cannot fit or cannot legally go down. Very common in the industry.

If you watch these videos though it's mainly daily rental box trucks that the owners are probably winging it with Google Maps or Apple Maps.
posted by jmauro at 7:09 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Does every town have a can opener?

The railroad overpass that goes over our Main Street, which has 11' 10" clearance, has eaten a number of box trucks. I was a little bemused when the village decided to attach a nice painted "welcome" sign to the bridge, as the likelihood of it surviving a close encounter of the box truck kind seems fairly marginal...
posted by thomas j wise at 7:23 AM on August 1


There's probably a good reason why they're not doing that, but seeing their fancy laser height detection system getting ignored I think they should have a sacrificial metal rod or length of chain strung across the road at bridge height a few meters before a truck is actually stuck under there.

I think it's because the approach to the bridge doesn't offer an escape route? The place where you can take an alternative route to bypass the bridge (if you're driving a big truck) is quite far away from the bridge, and the bridge is not in sight from the side most of the impacting trucks come from.

I'm not sure where such a structure could be put up. Once a truck has turned into the approach road, there's no way out but *bang* or try to back out along a long, narrow road with a big intersection at the end of it, against the traffic behind it which would be hugely disruptive.

Driving into a decoy would lessen the damage to the bridge, but would still hugely disrupt traffic.
posted by Zumbador at 7:23 AM on August 1


Does every town have a can opener?

I can’t speak for every town, but Augusta, GA has the Olive Road bridge.
posted by TedW at 9:33 AM on August 1


Australia had a baffle installed in 2016

The stop sign at 5:28 in that video is INCREDIBLE.

I was once driving a rented moving truck through Connecticut, and google maps took me onto a smaller expressway. When I turned on, they were doing construction at the entrance that either temporarily blocked or removed the no trucks sign, and I didn't know the area at all. My first clue was when some of the people passing me started waving their arms frantically/angrily, and my next was the progression of bridges with shorter and shorter clearance signs preceding them, but at that point I was committed for the next many miles because expressway (the median had a ditch or a rail, I don't remember which, but turning around was no better an option). I happily was in a smaller truck that had its height clearly posted on the dash, so if I'd hit a sign with dicey numbers I'd have stopped and called AAA or something to get advice, but as it was I escaped unscathed at the next exit. At the next rest stop, I tried to find some option to tell it I needed to not get creamed by a bridge; no dice. So for the next 60 miles of my drive had my phone CONSTANTLY tell me I should get back off the interstate because there was a faster way - by maybe as many as 5 minutes! Thanks, google, but no thanks.

That story isn't WHY I eventually got myself out of the google ecosystem, but it sure didn't make it a harder choice.
posted by solotoro at 9:41 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


There's a good chance I read this one on MetaFilter...
Two guys in a rental truck came to a low bridge. The clearance sign said 10 feet 8 inches. When they got out and measured their truck, they discovered it was eleven feet high.
The first guy said, 'What do you think?' and the other one said, “I can’t see any cops around. Let’s go for it!”
posted by MtDewd at 10:32 AM on August 1 [4 favorites]


Fun post! Here in Vermont, we do it horizontal.
posted by meinvt at 10:35 AM on August 1 [1 favorite]


I'm also struck in the first video that they have subtitles for the interview with the homeless man (which were very approximate to his words at best). I found him perfectly understandable.
posted by meinvt at 10:36 AM on August 1 [2 favorites]


So, I have to occasionally drive trucks and big pieces of emergency equipment. I operate in the Chicago metro area. Let me tell you...woo...Chicago can be pretty tough if you're in a truck. I looked for a City of Chicago website that would list viaduct heights. Well, you too may be able to find that list, but, it has not been maintained in over a decade. At least it's something though. Anyhow, Chicago has found a way to not maintain signage on viaducts either. So, if you get south and west in Chicago, very often there are no posted height signs at all. In various parts of the community of Englewood, you can get to an address from the east but not the west from approaching from the north or south. You won't know until you get to a seemingly low, unmarked, train overpass. 10 feet 6 inches? 11 feet 4 inches? Backing down side streets and then turning at intersections whilst backing up is wholly unnerving. I have found an app called TruckMap on iOs that has been helpful, except it drains your battery rapidly. You pre-enter the specifics of your vehicle (height, weight, length, width) and it will provide a route based on the information that you have given. Chicago, to it's credit, has truck arteries that run north/south, east/west that all have high enough clearance for most big vehicles to fit. However, you have to utilize those truck arteries to turn onto another truck artery and then navigate from as close as you can get.

All of this said, thanks for the post!!
posted by zerobyproxy at 11:31 AM on August 1 [3 favorites]


So, I have to occasionally drive trucks and big pieces of emergency equipment. I operate in the Chicago metro area. Let me tell you...woo...Chicago can be pretty tough if you're in a truck. So, I have to occasionally drive trucks and big pieces of emergency equipment. I operate in the Chicago metro area. Let me tell you...woo...Chicago can be pretty tough if you're in a truck.

Chicago used to have a phone number you could call where you could tell them where you were coming from and the destination address and they would give you step-by-step instructions to avoid all the bridges too low for your size truck. That was about 20 years ago, so I have no idea if that still exists.
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 12:00 PM on August 1 [2 favorites]


Bridge height? hmmmm
Truck height? hmmmm

Oh, hell Roger, just let some air outta the tires.
posted by BlueHorse at 12:21 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Here in Vermont, we do it horizontal.
I was going to mention the signs along I-89 warning of a $2000 fine for taking a truck up the Notch and suggest the price tag might deter some truckers, but one got stuck last month anyway.

A state trooper said "In all my years of service, no one has ever told me they didn't see the signs." So... bravado???
posted by MtDewd at 12:41 PM on August 1


The stop sign at 5:28 in that video is INCREDIBLE.

That's the system that is/was on the Sydney Harbor Tunnel. I guess it's still going?
posted by zamboni at 12:43 PM on August 1 [3 favorites]


I'm also struck in the first video that they have subtitles for the interview with the homeless man (which were very approximate to his words at best). I found him perfectly understandable.

Yeah, we have a number of official languages here (soon to be 12!) in SA, and regional English dialects (most South Africans aren't English first language). For a national broadcaster, subtitles are probably a cautious insurance.
posted by BrStekker at 12:45 PM on August 1 [1 favorite]


Chicago used to have a phone number you could call where you could tell them where you were coming from and the destination address and they would give you step-by-step instructions to avoid all the bridges too low for your size truck. That was about 20 years ago, so I have no idea if that still exists.

Well, they list a number on their website. I've talked to whoever answered and they told me that they don't maintain it (aren't responsible for it). The city has been notorious for sloppy re-asphaulting. Meaning, they sometimes slope the road for better drainage on one side. You'll tear the corner of the box off if you're not cautious.

Here is the list I could find, posted in 2011.
posted by zerobyproxy at 1:38 PM on August 1


Springfield Missouri has our own.
posted by psylosyren at 8:16 PM on August 1


The Australian wall-of-water stop sign is amazing.
posted by clew at 11:28 PM on August 1


Chicago's streets are largely baffling, with some intersections of avenues and one-ways and level ramps creating a byzantine maze (especially near the river and the Loop) and then a few blocks away you're in a weird pocket of side-streets that stops having any lane markings at all.

The hanging bollard baffle seems like the solution to all these bridges, positioned before the last turn-off (or a turn-around). I get the normalizing deviance thing; but on the other hand these are bridges not up to modern standards and it's not all that deviant to set expectations by standards (indeed, standards promulgated for safety purposes). If it would be unreasonable for the city not to update the bridge were it possible, then maybe it is obliged to do more than putting up signs, once hanging bollards are demonstrated to prevent damage and injury.

Plus you'd think having large trucks smashing into important rail infrastructure is to be avoided; and replacing a sacrificial pole a few yards ahead of the bridge preferable to risking damage to the structure...
posted by snuffleupagus at 3:45 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


Plus you'd think having large trucks smashing into important rail infrastructure is to be avoided; and replacing a sacrificial pole a few yards ahead of the bridge preferable to risking damage to the structure...

I go under one every day on my commute where it's actually a bunch of poles hanging vertically by chain. So, if your truck is too tall, you hear it scraping the top of your vehicle, but no damage to the poles as their is little to no resistance. You don't even have to sacrifice a pole! (But, common sense and all that...)
posted by a non mouse, a cow herd at 6:53 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


a bunch of poles hanging vertically by chain.

davidwitteveen's prior comment features this exact style of barrier.

(But, common sense and all that...)

These kind of barriers can help, but all the signage, nudges and non-destructive barriers in the world will not stop someone in a rental truck who's in a hurry and not paying attention.
posted by zamboni at 7:35 AM on August 2 [2 favorites]


I seem to recall an example of a bridge like this with hanging chains in front of it, and a huge sign on the bridge itself saying something like, "IF YOU HIT THOSE CHAINS, YOU WILL HIT THIS BRIDGE." That seems like the clearest possible way to warn people (short of that high-tech stop sign projected onto falling water).
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 1:25 PM on August 2


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