DOT project could prevent large trucks from getting stuck

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DURHAM-- Despite the large, yellow signs and warning lights, some truck drivers are not getting the message as large trucks continue getting stuck under short bridges across North Carolina.


On Thursday, a semi truck could be seen barely squeezing under an eleven foot bridge at Gregson and Peabody Streets in Durham as chunks of metal roofing tore off.


"A lot of the trucks that crash into the bridge are rental trucks. most people are probably not as experience as some the professional drivers," described Jurgen Henn, a network administrator for Duke University. His office overlooks the bridge on Pettigrew Street. Henn set up cameras outside his office to capture tall trucks getting stuck beneath the short bridge. He posts them on his website 11foot8.com to help reduce crashes.


"I started recording in April 2008. I believe the current count now is at 63."


Henn collects the debris from accidents like scraps of metal and even a bumper. "I have a few pieces that I had the truck driver sign them," he said.


To prevent the problem the Department of Transportation is trying something new. DOT is going to install signals which will warn certain truck drivers not to go under short bridges.


"If an over height vehicle approaches, the signal will turn red and that sign will light up saying over height vehicle must turn. and that's the best we can do," said Battle Whitley, NCDOT Division Operations Engineer.


If drivers get the message after signals are installed at two Durham trouble spots later this year, DOT may use them at other bridges across North Carolina.


"If it's successful here, than there would be not much reason for us not to use it elsewhere when the situation dictates," Whitely said


While the signals may reduce Henn's website traffic, he'll feel much safer.


"I walk under the train tracks every day to the parking lot and I always look under my shoulder, so that would mean a lot in terms of safety around here."


DOT plans to install the two signals at Roxboro and Pettigrew and and Gregson and Peabody Streets in May or June. The project will cost about $272,000.

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