WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — Just a few weeks ago, Waterbury resident Mike Theriault was telling News 8 it’s becoming a growing concern — trucks getting stuck trying to drive under the railroad bridge on Bank Street.
“When are they gonna do something? Are they gonna wait until someone gets hurt critically?” he said.
Mike tipping off News 8 again — another tractor-trailer stuck under the bridge Thursday afternoon, mangled and banged up. The driver wasn’t hurt. News 8 saw him walking and talking with the police.
A man who says he was in the car right behind the truck shared his thoughts moment before it happened.
“He’s gonna hit the bridge!” said Gordon Chandler. “He did not slow down whatsoever.”
News 8 checked with Waterbury Police. They tell us trucks have been stuck at the Bank Street Railroad Bridge 15 times in 2019; 11 times in 2020; and with this incident Thursday — seven times in the first 3 months of this year. Chief Fernando Spagnolo says construction work on nearby highways — The Mixmaster — has something to do with it.
“A lot of those renovations had to do with improvements to entrance ramps and approach ramps from Route 8 Northbound and Southbound,” Chief Spagnolo said. “Here in Waterbury, we see a lot of truck traffic at that particular intersection of interstates and highways so there have been some detours that have been made because of the construction. A lot of that truck traffic was diverted into city streets.”
He says that’s when the trucks started hitting the bridge.
“At that point, we met with Connecticut DOT, MTA Police, who are ultimately responsible and have jurisdiction for those bridges,” he said. “We had some meetings with those authorities and we came up with a plan, created some different diversionary routes for commercial traffic, put up some more signage.”
The clearance height is clearly marked at 12’7″ on the bridge and there’s a height bar at the exit ramp before the bridge along with new LED signage Chief Spagnolo mentioned.
It took a towing crew a few hours to carefully pull the tractor-trailer out from under the railroad bridge.
People passing by who stopped to take pictures considered the driver lucky he walked away without any serious injuries.