Virginia Ave. bridge is tight squeeze for I-65 semis
INDIANAPOLIS - We've all heard of highway accidents, but one bridge in the downtown area gets hit on a regular basis. According to the Department of Transportation, the Virginia Avenue bridge over I-65 is frequently hit by semi trailers.
It's been inspected dozens of times. Why it's getting crashed into so much defies explanation.
At the Virginia Ave. bridge over I-65, semis appear to be barely clearing the overpass. Most 18-wheelers are making it under with just six inches to spare.
"If it's pretty close it shakes you pretty good. I mean it will make you a little nervous...because you can tell when you go under, you can tell you're that close to it," said truck driver Jason Bryan.
On Wednesday, a semi carrying a road grader was 14 feet tall, the same height as the bridge. The driver reported a slight bounce before crashing in to the overpass.
"If you're a little high and you're cargo's jumping up and down a little bit it's a dangerous situation for the truck. You're going to hit it," said Harry Maginity, INDOT.
The Indiana Department of Transportation says over the past five years that's happened 48 times. The Virginia Avenue overpass has been struck 23 times northbound, 25 southbound.
The standard height for semi trailers is 13 and a half feet, but that doesn't include flatbeds. For flatbed trucks, it depends on what they're hauling. Anything above 13 and a half feet requires a special permit from the state.
"Before I go anywhere I got to measure everything. My company makes sure I measure everything," said Joseph Monroe, Florida truck driver.
Monroe showed us how he measures the load on his truck before each trip. He also said drivers need to adjust the automatic hydraulic suspension.
"If the driver doesn't relief pull the air valves to release the air out of the tanks, what happens is the trailer raises up in the air and if the trailer raises up and he doesn't know, he's gonna crash right into the bridge, scrape the top of the trailer," he explained.
That's what seems to have happened on Virginia Avenue. In Wednesday's crash, the driver was able to walk away and no one else was hurt, although it did cause a huge traffic backup. Like the 48 previous times, damage to the bridge was only cosmetic.
Trucks over 13 and a half feet tall have to apply for a special oversize load permit. They are routed around I-465 where most bridges are higher. All new bridges built in Indiana are at least 16 and a half feet tall.