A Few Semi-Solemn Words on the Truck Cab Graveyard


"WARNING!" Flash, flash-- "CLEARANCE 11 FEET 6 INCHES!"

"WARNING!!!!" Flash, flash-- "CLEARANCE 11 FEET 6 INCHES!!!"

"Yo! You in the Peterbilt!... WARNING!!!" Flash, flash-- "CLEARANCE 11 FEET 6 INCHES!!!--"

And SMASH! Crunch. Grind.

Ah, yes... another one gone to the Truck Cab Graveyard.

Every couple of months, my exit on the Parkway looks like the parking lot after a big Steelers loss-- unmoving, clotted with cars, black exhaust and steaming rage. And then I know:

Some semi-tractor-trailer has gotten wedged under the bridge to Second Avenue again.

The area is like a great Venus fly-trap for large trucks, drawing them down the road under increasingly lower bridges until eventually the truck cab can go no further...

Then the bridge peels off the top to get to the gooey Tootsie Roll center.


The berm along Bates Street looks like the truck cab equivalent of heads on pikes at the gates to a medieval fortress. Twisted metal and large chunks of expensive equipment sit to the side as a way of saying, "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here."

Of course, the flashing yellow signs with the clearance levels should be a warning, as well.

Yet the truckers always seem to miss that part. Why, I've seen truckers plow forward with not a care in the world-- thinking of their loved ones back home... outrunning Smokies... overcome by the stink of pig carriers and diesel... or hampered by lack of sleep...

Only to get lured like a mosquito to a bug zapper under that bridge.

It's the song of the Sirens... the lighthouse lure of privateers on the rocks... or just long hours and a lack of java. But it's a regular feature of my commute.

Then yesterday, I saw a semi headed down the very road toward oblivion.

A quick eyeball estimate-- even from us shorty four-wheel amateurs-- said that Big Mack was never, ever going to clear the 11 foot six area. It'd be like a tin of beans to a can opener.

His fellow commuters watched in rapt anticipation as he went through the first series of warnings... went through the second flashing cries and...

STOPPED...

Twenty feet from Ultimate Doom.

He put on his flashers and waited to back up.

I applauded, the claps echoing over my car radio. Yes, this day, the Cab Eating Bridge would not feast on the good travelers of Western Pennsylvania.

Ah, but it will be twice as hungry tomorrow.

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19 comments:

Kathy said...

Hilarious AND poetic! I'm convinced a good portion of the population believes signs and warnings apply only to others. At least in the case of this bridge, actual punishment is involved. A+ post!

Jenn Thorson said...

Kathy- I think they just aren't paying attention. I saw a good chunk of a guy's cab pulled entirely off and laying on the side of the road (the pic I showed you was nothing compared to this)...

Which meant the guy had to have gotten stuck AND still keep trying to go forward. I mean WOW! What circumstances lead to something like that?

Alice said...

Oh jeez. I bet that was amazing to see. Was it all sort of in slow motion? And can you imagine being on the overpass when something like that happened.

Bryan said...

boooooo to moments of clarity!! booooooo!!!!!

Jenn Thorson said...

Alice- Heh, it either was in slow-motion or my coffee wasn't fully kicked-in... or both. But yes, there was a lot of looking back and forth from the truck to the bridge to the truck again thinking, "NO WAY" is this going to work."

The path above this second bridge is part of a long riverfront walkway for joggers and bikers, so I'm sure they get quite an eyeful when they look below. The highway is right there, too, but you don't get much of a view from it.

Bryan- Well, I have to say, I was rooting for that clarity because if he got stuck, that meant I'd be waiting there trapped for another 45 minutes for the cops to come, the guy to let the air out of all his tires, back up, etc.

So, "HUZZAH for clarity! Woot! And YAY!"

Da Old Man said...

I love watching those trucks get stuck. We have 2 of those notorious truck eating bridges near me.
Back when I drove a truck (yes, I have had nearly every job, ever) that is about the only stupid move I didn't make.

Jenn Thorson said...

DaOldMan- Great Gravy, Joe-- you seriously HAVE had every job in the world. I think you should blog about that. Have you been a lumberjack? How about a diving instructor? I'm just trying to find something to trip you up.

I would imagine these truck drivers would have to PAY for the damage to their trucks in these cases-- is that true? You know, since there's unlikely to be Truck Eating Bridge insurance. :)

wordtapestry said...

The most amazing bridge "disaster" I ever saw was a trucker that drove down to a 1920s stone bridge in Penna that was clearly marked at 10 feet, 6 inches, with only room for one car at a time. He managed to shear off the sides of his truck and dump the top of the bridge on the carrier behind him. Snarled traffic around northern Philadelphia for miles, and he was arrested. Sometimes, stupidity is illegal.

Jenn Thorson said...

WordTapestry- Heh, NICELY put. :) Wouldn't you have liked to hear the conversation with his employers on that one?

"Hey, Steve, we saw ya on the news last night. How's your rig?" :)

Jack Payne said...

I like the term, Venus Fly Trap, Jenn. Perfect description. This happened to me once. Not with an 18-wheeler, but with a motor home. Ripped the entire roof off the fool thing, including the air conditioner in 100-degree weather.

Jenn Thorson said...

Oh Jack- I'm cringing just picturing that... It's so vivid-- and so painful.

And I can see it happening much more often with folks driving motorhomes because it's just not the usual vehicle you're used to.

What did you even do then? I guess the whole trip was a wash?

Thanks for stopping by!

Jay said...

ROFL!!! As one of my friends is wont to say 'You can't fix stupid!'

Shame for the other road users getting held up though. And I'm only laughing because no-one was hurt, not even the stupid one. ;)

Jenn Thorson said...

Jay- You do have to wonder what's running through their minds, don't you? What could be done to reduce the number of trucks being devoured by that darned bridge...

Aside from reconstructing the overpass, that is!

Maybe a really large version of those amusement park/fun fair signs... "You must be LESS THAN this high to go on this ride."

Jay said...

Yes!!! That oughta do it! LOL!

Or those things they hang over the road when there's a live cable coming up ahead - I don't know if you have them over there, but on construction sites where they hang temporary power cables over roads that trucks use, they'll put a warning gantry over the road and hang big dangling bells on it. I guess the idea is, if you get smacked in the windshield with a row of stonking great bells, it's a really, really good idea to discontinue forward progress ...

Jenn Thorson said...

Jay- Ha, I don't think we have that particular technique here, but I do like the logic. :)

I'm also really liking the word "stonking." We don't have that phrase here either, but I think I'm going to have to make sure I use it in a sentence today.

Sunshine said...

Great watching it but when your stuck on the parkway and about to enter one of the tunnels it gives an instant migraine!

Jenn Thorson said...

Sunshine- Ah, yes, I believe you're a Pittsburgher too, aren't you?

I fortunately only go through the tunnels in the morning now, but I recall my last job required me to go through tunnels on both the Parkway East and West, and that commute was a little like one of Dante's rings of Hell. :)

damon said...

I guess the third signs the charm.

Maybe they should hang the peeled off cab roofs ON the warning signs. That oughta do it.

Jenn Thorson said...

Damon- There ya go.. now THAT's an idea. A nice little collection of 'em with a sign that reads:

"THIS COULD BE YOU!"