Watch an Army Truck Smash Its $200K+ Weapons System on a Famous Low-Clearance Bridge
The famous "11 Foot 8" Bridge claims an unusual—and expensive—victim in its war against tall trucks.
If you happen to be passing through Durham, North Carolina, take a few minutes and stop at the South Gregson Street train overpass. There's a pretty good chance you'll see some poor truck smash into the famously-low bridge, whose propensity for peeling back the tops of trailers has earned it the ominous nickname of "The Can Opener." Its latest victim is a little less common, though: A six-axle military truck whose roof-mounted weapons rig proved a little too tall to pass
The otherwise-unremarkable 11-foot-8-inch bridge rose to prominence in recent years after a webcam was installed back in 2008 to watch for wayward trucks. Since then, 130 vehicles ranging from box trucks to RVs to, apparently, Medium Tactical Vehicles have ignored the height warnings and driven straight into the metal structure. The damage differs from detached air conditioners to destroyed roofs, but the spectacle is always fun to watch.
In the latest video, which was recorded on Friday, the U.S. Army MTV can be heard pushing its big Caterpillar diesel engine as the driver hurries to catch a green light. But in his haste, he fails to notice the flashing sign reading "OVERHEIGHT MUST TURN," or remember that he's got what looks to be a machine gun assembly covered with a protective tarp mounted on the truck's roof. As a pedestrian across the street watches expectantly, the unfortunate private plows the roof mount straight into the bridge.
With the covering visibly damaged—who knows what it looked like underneath, but those two big hits sound expensive—the driver sheepishly steers the MTV around the corner to presumably inspect the situation and prepare for the chewing out of a lifetime. It's been speculated that the truck was carrying a CROWS system, a remote-controlled targeting rig that can be fitted with weapons like machine guns or grenade launchers.
At this point, you might be wondering why this happens so often. The bridge is unusually low because it was built before modern regulations took effect, but that quirk is compounded by the fact that it's located smack in the middle of Durham, next to a highway (where bridges are required to provide 16 feet of clearance) and close to the Duke University campus.
So it makes sense that the "11 Foot 8 Bridge," as it's unofficially known, could catch a fair amount of drivers off guard. But why haven't authorities done anything to prevent it? Well, they have: In 2016, city officials installed a height sensor a block before the underpass that triggers the flashing warning sign seen in the video and makes the traffic light turn red when it senses a too-tall truck. But people being people, even that hasn't stopped the accidents from occurring.
As for more active measures, raising the bridge is out of the question because it would require re-grading the train tracks for a mile in either direction. Same goes for lowering the road, which runs directly over a main sewer line that's just feet below the pavement—another gift from a time before standards.
So the show must go on, and rest assured we'll be watching.