Phenominal Impact

Massive truck damage is again the subject of current news stories – In this most recent incident the level of damage is beyond any level of understandability, so far beyond, that it is without exaggeration almost impossible to understand how the truck and the fool piloting it, made it to the other side.

Impact damage has long been an issue with Covered & wooden spans, with but the 20th Century exceptions of Oregon and New Brunswick and British Columbia, most such bridges were built before heavy trucks existed and clearances were standardized.

We have spoken to truck impact damage here on The Bridgewright Blog in prior entries, and of how the frequency of these impacts and the level of damage both seem to be on the rise in recent years. GPS systems are often assigned blame by the offending drivers, this most recent case included. I can’t help but wonder however if some of this is not perhaps due to the continuing disappearance of through trusses of any kind from the National landscape. Modest span through trusses of any type are virtually no more. In their stead we are left with concrete deck bridges. None of the wonder of trusswork to perhaps spark the imagination of future builders and engineers. Just the continuation of an unending ribbon of pavement, unending road – Road seemingly levitated over water, supported by what, few who find themselves crossing even glimpse into the rear-view for a second glance at but a blip in passing to wonder…

Thought need not be spent, road is road.

Clearance and load limit signs are found less and less frequently on that road.

All that and I still can’t understand this level of unthinking – I drive a diesel fired behemoth, large enough that it is a pain to park in most parking lots, high enough that clearance signs in parking garages and drive thru’s need be heeded, heavy enough that I am pushing it with three ton load limit signs.

So somebody pointing a Semi through the Portal of something so atypical as a covered wooden bridge, passing load limit and clearance signs in the doing, is impossible for me to understand.

In helping the Graton Assoc's with the restoration of The Blair One of the tasks I was assigned was replication of the the many missing & impact damaged Wind Braces

In helping the Graton Assoc’s with the restoration of The Blair for these last many months – One of the tasks I was assigned was replication of the many all too common story, impact damaged & impact missing Wind Braces

I’m wondering with this entry, what needs be done to avoid more of this phenomenon of impact as the future unfolds?


About Will Truax

I'm a timberframer and preservation carpenter, and regularly work on Covered Bridge restoration projects. Bridgewrighting can be a tough row to hoe, for a myriad of reasons. From scheduling issues to differing opinions and philosophies on what is appropriate in methods and materials, to multiple jurisdictions still not sufficiently vetting bidders resumes - Which is to say, just because a company is on that state approved list and capable of building that seven figure overpass, this does not mean they are capable of restoring a wooden bridge... So, I have much to say about all this and more - And despite my tough row observation, I promise not to whine. View all posts by Will Truax

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