Trucks striking low-clearance bridges: a never-ending problem in Norwood

Trucks striking low-clearance bridges: a never-ending problem in Norwood

NORWOOD, Mass. — Yet another truck struck a low-clearance bridge in Norwood Wednesday morning, making the incident the second this month.

The impact at the Lenox Street bridge tore the entire top off the Enterprise rental truck. The driver called police and was later cited.

Norwood police tell Boston 25 News they respond to an average of six to eight bridge strikes each year.

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The most problematic bridge is on Morse Street – an old, narrow bridge with a particularly low clearance of 9-feet-11-inches. A freight line runs on the railroad tracks above.

The drivers who get stuck under the bridge are typically driving rental box trucks and are not used to checking for low-clearance signs, Norwood Police Chief Bill Brooks said.

But just last week, a tractor trailer struck the Morse Street bridge, causing the bridge itself to move.

“This was really the first time I can remember where they looked at the bridge, and they said, ‘Yeah, we got a little bit of movement. We’re not going to be able to use it for a couple days,’” Brooks said. “They brought engineers out, cranes, and they reset the bridge.”

But damage to the bridges is rare. So, too, are serious injuries for the drivers.

Nonetheless, the incidents often reroute traffic and require a police investigation, inspection by the railroad and clean-up.

Brooks has spoken to the town about physical changes to fix the problem at Morse Street. Raising the bridge itself and lowering the road are expensive and long-term projects, he said. Construction would also require temporarily stopping the freight line. Other options could include an overhead device consisting of chains hanging before approaching the bridge.

Until then, Brooks is warning drivers, especially those unfamiliar with low-clearance bridges, to pay close attention on the road.

“It’s really important when people are renting trucks that they take a look, that they know what their clearance is and that they watch bridges,” Brooks said. “Every time you go under a bridge you’ve got to be watching for the signage.”