Rehabilitation of The Bridge Which Damages Trucks: 11Foot8 to Grow Up to Be 12Foot4

Almost everything has been tried: a plethora of traffic warning signs, special traffic signals, and even a reinforced solid steel bar to protect the railroad overpass known as 11Foot8 from being damaged by ignorant drivers of high-profile vehicles — such as buses, trucks, recreational vehicles and other tall conveyances — from continuously smashing them into the old bridge; but the clearance underneath this span will be raised eight inches by Wednesday, November 6, 2019 as renovation work begins tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23, 2019.

Rehabilitation of The Bridge Which Damages Trucks: 11Foot8 to Grow Up to Be 12Foot4

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

You have probably come across one of the now infamous videos of 11Foot8, on which trucks, buses, recreational vehicles have either their tops peeled like a can in a can opener — or have much of the vehicle annihilated altogether.

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

That is because this bridge is named after the height of its span being eleven feet and eight inches of clearance suspended off of the surface of the street; and despite its legendary reputation, some drivers decide to ignore all of the warnings and signals which adorn the area and attempt to maneuver their massive vehicles through the gauntlet.

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Many vehicles have crashed into a permanent low clearance bar — battering it in the process — above the street prior to vehicles approaching the bridge. This reinforced bar of solid steel serves two purposes: to warn drivers of the limited height clearance under the trestle — and to protect the bridge itself.

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Pedestrians walk under the bridge, which was built approximately 100 years ago. At the time when the trestle was built, no standards for minimum clearance existed.

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The bridge crosses South Gregson Street between West Peabody Street and West Pettigrew Street in Durham, North Carolina. South Gregson Street is a one-way street in the southbound direction.

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Look closely on one of the buildings at the corner across West Peabody Street from the bridge and you will see one of at least two video cameras which are focused on the bridge at all times.

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

As a result of the numerous videos of vehicle incidents, the bridge has its own dedicated Internet web site.

This is one of the 145 videos — at the time this article was written — of incidents which have been recorded by Jürgen Henn since April of 2008. Copyright © Jürgen Henn — 11foot8.com.

This is a video compilation of numerous incidents at this bridge as compiled by Willem Hebbe — and this video was posted on Tuesday, October 11, 2016. Since then, at least 36 additional incidents were recorded on video. Enjoy all nine minutes and 49 seconds of non-stop mayhem — all of which could have been easily avoided — and do not miss the last video of this compilation, which will leave you shaking your head in disbelief. Copyright © Jürgen Henn — 11foot8.com.

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The road initially could not be lowered and the trestle cannot be raised for a variety of reasons — primarily due to the exorbitant cost for each potential solution — as explained in the frequently asked questions of the aforementioned Internet web site…

…but this announcement at the official Twitter account of the Durham Transportation Department reveals that starting tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23, 2019, the North Carolina Railroad Overpass known as 11Foot8 will be closed to all traffic through Tuesday, November 5, 2019 to raise the height of the span eight inches to twelve feet and four inches of roadway clearance suspended off of the surface of the street…

…at an estimated cost of $500,000.00 “for the purpose of improving safety and reducing damage to North Carolina Railroad infrastructure from vehicle strikes.”

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

I wanted to see what the view looked like above the bridge — so I ventured southeast of it…

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…and I noticed the side view of the reinforced low clearance bar, which is on the left side of the photograph. So far, no one vehicle — truck or otherwise — has defeated it; although the steel beam had already been replaced once since it was installed.

11Foot8 bridge railroad tracks

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

The bridge supports a railroad track, which is owned by the North Carolina Railroad Company. The traffic light is the corner of South Gregson Street between West Peabody Street as viewed towards the northwest from the at-grade railroad crossing on South Duke Street.

11Foot8 bridge railroad crossing

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

This is the railroad crossing sign on South Duke Street.

11Foot8 bridge railroad tracks

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Viewing the railroad track in the other direction — towards the southeast and away from 11Foot8 — is the Durham railroad station.

11Foot8 bridge railroad tracks

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

…and I just felt like taking some photographs of the railroad track itself — just because. Railly. To keep on track with my ties to travel.

11Foot8 bridge railroad tracks

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

Summary

11Foot8 bridge

Photograph ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

I did not witness any incidents during my brief visit to this curious phenomenon; but on average, a truck, bus, or recreational vehicle becomes “visibly damaged” at the trestle approximately once per month.

That statistic simply amazes me — but hopefully, increasing the height of the span by eight inches will greatly reduce the amount of incidents which occur at this railroad overpass…

…although I initially thought that a significant amount of funds greater than $500,000.00 would have been needed to resolve this issue.

This bridge has a sibling in Westwood, Massachusetts. One incident back in the summer of 2014 involves a truck carrying approximately $100,000.00 worth of live lobsters which crashed into the bridge and erupted into a blazing fire.

I do not understand exactly why any of these preventable incidents happen.

The trestle known as 11Foot8 is located across South Gregson Street between West Peabody Street and West Pettigrew Street in Durham, North Carolina. To get to it by motor vehicle, use exit 176 from the northbound lanes of Interstate 85 — or exit 176A from the southbound lanes of Interstate 85 — and travel 1.5 miles south on South Gregson Street, which becomes a one-way street after passing Northgate Mall. You will then drive down a quiet residential area lined with trees prior to arriving at the trestle.

No admission fee is charged; but plenty of restaurants, shopping, entertainment and lodging options abound within a radius of a few miles.

All photographs ©2018 by Brian Cohen.

4 thoughts on “Rehabilitation of The Bridge Which Damages Trucks: 11Foot8 to Grow Up to Be 12Foot4”

  1. Christopher says:

    Kind of sad to end that chapter of hilarity but it was ultimately necessary. I imagine it will still snag a couple trucks tho less frequently. I wonder if anyone has crashed more than once here.

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      I agree, Christopher — and that is a very good question…

  2. r m h says:

    despite being one of the longest sentences ever (!), you need to change “an” to “a” :

    “Almost everything has been tried: ~~~~~~~~~an~~~~~~~~ plethora of traffic warning signs, special traffic signals, and even a reinforced solid steel bar to protect the railroad overpass known as 11Foot8 from being damaged by ignorant drivers of high-profile vehicles — such as buses, trucks, recreational vehicles and other tall conveyances — from continuously smashing them into the old bridge; but the clearance underneath this span will be raised eight inches by Wednesday, November 6, 2019 as renovation work begins tomorrow, Wednesday, October 23, 2019.”

    1. Brian Cohen says:

      Now how in the world did I allow that one to get past me?!?

      Thank you as always, r m h. It has since been corrected.

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