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Sunday, July 21, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Spokane

Driver ticketed for wedging truck beneath Stevens Street railroad bridge

UPDATED: Mon., June 24, 2019, 9:20 p.m.

A towing crew prepares to remove a truck from underneath the Stevens Street railroad viaduct on Monday, June 24, 2019. The driver apparently misjudged the space under the bridge or failed to heed the yellow signs and flashing lights that warn  there is just 11 feet, 6 inches of clearance. (Chad Sokol / The Spokesman-Review)
A towing crew prepares to remove a truck from underneath the Stevens Street railroad viaduct on Monday, June 24, 2019. The driver apparently misjudged the space under the bridge or failed to heed the yellow signs and flashing lights that warn there is just 11 feet, 6 inches of clearance. (Chad Sokol / The Spokesman-Review)

Folks might consider early retirement if they had a nickel for each time a tall truck has collided with the not-so-tall Stevens Street railroad viaduct in downtown Spokane.

It happened again Monday afternoon: A driver in a large white box truck apparently misjudged the space under the bridge or failed to heed the yellow signs and flashing lights that warn there is only 11 feet, 6 inches of clearance.

This particular truck, owned by Enterprise Rent-A-Car, was only a hair taller, so the driver avoided smashing the freight compartment against the concrete span – a fate suffered by previous vehicles.

But the truck dragged its roof against the ceiling of the 104-year-old viaduct before getting wedged halfway through, forcing police to close two lanes of Stevens.

To unwedge the truck, a towing crew released air from its tires and tugged it out with a giant winch.

Officer Brad Moon said the driver, whose name he declined to release, was ticketed for failing to obey traffic signs and fined $187.

Dan Robbins, owner of Evergreen State Towing, said the truck was hauling dry ice.

Thirty-seven trucks collided with the Stevens viaduct in the decade ending in 2017 – about one collision every three months, according to data collected by the city.

Moon said he’s seen a drastic reduction in such incidents since late 2017 when the city installed an advance-warning system on Stevens, which activates a barrage of flashing lights when a tall truck breaks a sensor beam at the nearest intersection.

“I know I don’t come down here nearly as frequently as before that sensor went up,” Moon said.

The bridge is owned by the BNSF Railway Co., which typically sends engineers to check for structural damage after collisions.

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