John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
North Carolina's worst-designed underpass shows no signs of ending its automotive carnage.
It's been a while since we checked in with Durham's mayhem-spreading Bridge of Death. Has North Carolina's worst-designed underpass settled down since 2012, when it was seemingly peeling the top off of every other truck in sight?
Hardly! Though authorities have made efforts to prevent vehicles from running into the low-ceilinged bridge – which as blinking lights and multiple signs warn, has a clearance of only 11 feet and 8 inches – the demonic structure continues to ruin the days of incautious drivers. "After a 5-month 'dry spell,' the Gregson St canopener got hungry again in November and December," reports the bridge's devoted biographer, Jürgen Henn. In those two months the bridge managed to scalp three trucks that Henn was able to videotape:
Note the counter at bottom – that last collision marked at least 67 violent impacts since 2008 at this miserable crossing. As to why nobody's fixed the wretched thing, as explained before 1) a sewer main right underneath is blocking the lowering of the road 2) the railroad company that maintains the bridge has installed a crash beam, so the problem is covered from its end 3) the city has put up signs about the low clearance as far back as three blocks, so it's covered from its end.
Back in May, transportation workers tried once again to make the bridge safe for the world by installing more PAY-ATTENTION-TO-ME signage. This is what happened two hours later:
For Bridge of Death completists, here are a few more decapitations that occurred since this site last covered the malicious underpass. We'll check back in again sometime in 2016, when I expect exactly zero change in the bridge's flawless record of TKOs: