Why do trucks keep hitting 100th St. overpass?

Kent County

BYRON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — The westbound lane of the 100th Street bridge over US-131 near Byron Center remains shut down because semi-trucks carrying tall loads keep hitting the bridge deck.

24 Hour News 8 spoke with Michigan Department of Transportation, tuckers and even measured the bridge to try to find out why it keeps happening.

“It’s been documented with six hits in the past decade; five of those hits have been this year,” MDOT spokesman John Richard said Wednesday.

“Pretty peculiar,” he added. “That’s the way I would put it. That bridge has been the same height for decades.”

Richard says the 100th Street bridge was built in 1957. For decades, it has been just another bridge. But after the five recent crashes, it has its own sassy Facebook page.

When 24 Hour News 8 asked Richard why so many trucks are hitting the bridge now, he didn’t have an answer:

“I don’t know. Full moon,” he said.

MDOT says the bridge has signage and its height is posted online and in the trucker’s manual (PDF). MDOT also measured it just to make sure everything was in order.

“The underclearance is actually more than what it’s signed,” Richard said. “It’s signed at 13-foot-11, but the under clearance is about 14-foot-1 to 14-foot-2.”  

To verify the height, 24 Hour News 8 went out with a laser to measure the bridge. Three measurements found it is more than 14 feet tall at the side of the road.

“You are supposed to (be able to) go anywhere in the interstate system with 13-foot-6,” said a man who has been in the trucking business for 35 years.

He didn’t want to identify himself because he has to work with MDOT.

“It boils down to that drivers need to pay attention and they need to be more careful,” the trucking expert said.

He added that new trucking laws are limiting the amount of people who want to drive trucks.

“I don’t know if people are putting people in trucks that really shouldn’t be because they got a truck sitting with no one to drive it,” he said. “I don’t know.”

Truck experts think the trucks hitting the bridge back-to-back is a mix of inexperience and coincidence.

The overpass will be raised in 2020. Westbound 100th Street should be back open this summer.

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