When representatives from Carlisle borough, North Middleton Township and PennDOT met recently to discuss the problematic bridge at Orange and West High streets, someone made the comment that it had been awhile since a truck hit the bridge.
That day, at right about the same time as the meeting, a truck tried to squeeze through the bridge, shearing its top and leaving it hanging from the underside of the bridge.
Out of that meeting, though, came recommendations that may help cut down on such incidents.
In a report to the borough council Thursday, public works director Mark Malarich said new signs will be placed at the traffic signal at the intersection of Allen and Newville roads to prohibit trucks taller than 12-feet, 10-inches from turning east on Newville Road toward town.
Acknowledging that the current signs that prohibit trucks longer than 102 inches and alert drivers to the height of the bridge are not very visible, Malarich said the signs would be topped by red diamond-shaped signs to increase visibility.
A sign alerting drivers to the upcoming prohibition of trucks taller than 12-feet, 10-inches will also be placed along Newville Road just east of the intersection.
The sign marking the truck prohibition will be placed on the east side of the driveway to Triple K Fleet Services at 1220 Newville Road.
Trucks longer than 33 feet will also be prohibited east of Newville Road’s intersection with McClure’s Gap Road.
Additional signs would be placed on Newville Road and West High Street to prohibit those trucks, as well as trucks that are longer than 33-feet, from making turns that would take them under the bridge.
The signs are expected to be installed in 4-6 weeks, Malarich said.
Currently, drivers who hit the bridge are cited and fined by the borough police according to the vehicle code. They may also face additional penalties from the trucking company. Norfolk Southern could also file an insurance claim against the trucking company.
Malarich said the new prohibitions would allow police to levy additional fines against drivers.
Carlisle borough officials initially met with the PennDOT District 8 engineering team in November 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.
In the 26 months leading up to the November meeting, 16 trucks became stuck under the bridge. Nine of them were westbound and the other seven were eastbound.
In a number of those incidents, the truck hit the bridge and left the scene.
Norfolk Southern inspects the bridge after each incident, passing the cost of the inspection on to the trucking companies. These inspections are in addition to the railroad’s annual inspections and the inspections conducted every two years by PennDOT.
Whether the signs will do anything to combat the most common reason for drivers to get stuck — that they were following GPS directions — remains to be seen.
“We’ll see what happens, but keep our fingers crossed,” Mayor Tim Scott said.