John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The low-clearance East Street Bridge is a magnet for mayhem.
For a while now, CityLab has tracked the eardrum-smashing mayhem of the “Gregson Street Guillotine,” a low-clearance railroad trestle in Durham, North Carolina, that’s shaved the tops off of nearly 100 trucks.
Well, it turns out that lop-happy bridge has a relative living 600 miles up the coast. At 10-foot-6-inches, the East Street Bridge in Westwood, Massachusetts, is even lower than its Southern kin. And it’s just as vicious, racking up dozens of thunderous mishaps since (at least) the 1980s.
The latest destruction occurred on Monday, when a white box truck ignored a caution sign and traffic cone in the road and received a head-knock in return. A far more brutal collision took place last week. According to the Westwood Patch, much of the carnage can be tallied to amateur movers in rental trucks. “They’re used to driving that way on a regular basis, so they don’t even think about the bridge height,” the site quotes a police officer saying.
Here’s the Patch accounting of the bridge’s vehicular toll in 2011:
One incident in May involved a truck hitting the bridge, another involved cars crashing under the bridge, another involved a truck full of cookies that hit the bridge, one involving a wine truck hitting the bridge and spilling wine bottles onto the ground. In late September, one driver was following a GPS device and went under the bridge, which hit an air conditioning unit that was on top of the truck, knocking it onto the windshield of the car behind.
The bridge’s destructive nature is exhaustively preserved on YouTube. Fair warning: some of the clips are pretty violent. A couple of the tamer ones are below: a World Wide Moving truck that hit the bridge so hard in June that it knocked down the “Low Clearance” sign, and an incident the police deemed “Slight issue with ladders.”