Carlisle Borough officials met with the PennDOT District 8 engineering team Wednesday to discuss the ongoing problem of trucks getting stuck under the bridge at Orange and West High streets, often referred to as the “subway” bridge.
“They understood where we were coming from and they couldn’t have been more cooperative,” Mayor Tim Scott said.
Representatives from North Middleton Township also attended the meeting.
Scott said PennDOT crews will look at factors such as turning radius and elevation, among other things, to determine possible courses of action to mitigate the problem.
“We can’t eliminate it because you can’t control people’s behavior,” he said.
Scott said the borough has been keeping track of the incidents, compiling both photos and information from the drivers when available.
“We had decided a long time ago it was important to keep track of all this so that if we saw there was a pattern we could bring it to their attention,” he said.
Because the roads are state routes, any changes to the roads themselves would be at PennDOT’s discretion.
In the past 26 months, 16 trucks have ended up stuck under the bridge. Nine of them were westbound and the other seven were eastbound.
While it is the trucks that actually become immovable that garner the most attention, the data from the borough shows a number of incidents over the past two years in which a truck hit the bridge and left the scene.
One of those incidents happened on Jan. 29, when three trucks had issues with the bridge. An eastbound truck hit the bridge but was able to back out, and a westbound truck hit the bridge and knocked down a stop sign. That driver was able to turn around, but North Middleton Police later found the truck at a distribution center.
Also that day a westbound truck hit the bridge, ripping open the top of the trailer, which required the hand unloading of the freight and closed the road for seven hours.
The bridge is inspected by Norfolk Southern after each incident, with the cost of those inspections paid for by the trucking companies. The inspection is in addition to Norfolk Southern’s annual inspections and the inspections done every two years by PennDOT.
Drivers are cited and fined by the borough police according to the vehicle code. The drivers may also face penalties from the trucking company. Norfolk Southern can also file an insurance claim against the trucking company.
A truck got stuck in the subway at South Orange and West High streets Friday morning.
The most common reason for getting stuck is that the GPS told the driver to turn right from High Street, Scott said. This happens despite signs announcing the bridge height of 12 feet 10 inches that are posted on Ritner Highway, Newville Road and both sides of the bridge.
The average height of a tractor-trailer is 13 feet 6 inches, according the Federal Highway Administration.
Scott anticipates another meeting with PennDOT that will narrow the options, which could include flashing lights and additional warning signs that more specifically alert the drivers not only to the low bridge but also to the lack of space to turn around if the driver gets close to the bridge.
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