Three bright yellow signs warn drivers that the abandoned trestle has a clearance of 12 feet 10 inches, much lower than the average semi height of 13 feet 6 inches. But truck drivers not familiar with the road see the signs too late to stop--or don't know how high their rigs are. Since June, when three trucks got their tops skinned by the low bridge, at least two more 18-wheelers have been peeled.
The road is the Texas Department of Transportation's responsibility; the bridge is now owned by DART; and Dallas police officers work the accidents that result. No one has been keeping track of how frequently big rigs hit the old trestle. But people who travel that route or work in the area say they see damaged trucks sitting by the side of the road and drivers weeping or jumping up and down in frustration several times a month. The rusted steel of the trestle shows its own wear-and-tear by the rigs.
The city had been considering removing it when construction on the East Dallas Veloway begins, but no timetable had been set. Given the city's track record of completing projects on time, the bridge-too-low could continue its truck-demolishing habit for years.
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Representatives from DART, the city of Dallas and the state transportation department passed the buck when they talked to the Observer in June about the situation. They blamed inexperienced or inattentive truck drivers and had no plans to take the bridge out any time soon. But since our story ran, DART officials have been seen checking the bridge out.
Why did the agency change its stance? Could it have been prodding by li'l ol' us?
"I don't know that it was any one thing," Morgan Lyons, DART spokesman, told me this morning. "Truckers keep having trouble figuring out it is 12 feet 6 inches tall. We were receiving calls from the neighborhood and people around the city have been calling." Worried about the danger to truckers and other drivers, Dallas city Councilman Gary Griffith had contacted DART in April about removing the bridge ASAP.
DART is trying to figure out how much it would cost to tear the trestle down but could make a decision this month. "Early estimates I'm hearing are $75,000 to $100,000," Lyons says. "That's one of the things we need to nail down." —Glenna Whitley