'Can Opener Bridge' at Garfield Park causing amusement and concern

Courtesy: Russ Clemens
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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — On the outskirts of Garfield Park in Indianapolis, a heavily traveled stretch of East Pleasant Run Parkway North Drive runs under a CSX railroad line. It's near Pagoda Drive and Raymond Street, where the train also intersects.

Courtesy: Kalman John Valastek
Courtesy: Kalman John Valastek
Courtesy: Lucy Grodin
Courtesy: Russ Clemens
Courtesy: Russ Clemens
Courtesy: Sean Harris

Commuters and neighbors tell us that not only do the trains slow traffic on Raymond, but there are plenty of collisions being reported with the CSX bridge over Pleasant Run Parkway. They say it's happening so often it's the hot topic on neighborhood forums.

There are plenty of pictures taken by neighbors in Garfield Park of trucks hitting a 104 year old bridge that supports active CSX train tracks. Neighbors are concerned and some are even exasperated. Kevin Mahern, who lives by Garfield Park says it’s been a problem all summer. “It's so pervasive, you know, it happens so often,” he said

Courtesy: Kalman John Valastek

People who live in the area chat and share pictures of the accidents on Nextdoor and the Garfield Park Facebook group about the bridge accidents and delays. Despite clearance signs showing a height of 11’ 8”, neighbors say they've seen a recent spike in collisions with this bridge, “It seemed like when the train traffic increased this past summer, so did the accidents with the trucks,” says Lucy Grondin who has lived in the area for a few years.

Neighbors say train delays drive traffic away from Raymond Street down to the CSX bridge underpass on East Pleasant Run Parkway.

“Sometimes the trains will sit on the tracks, you know, upwards of an hour. There’s people sitting there, and this is the only way to get across, so they cut through here,” says Grondin. Some accidents are different than others. “There’s times where the tops are ripped off of the truck, there’s other times where they’re just wedged in there and they’ve gotta flatten the tires to get the truck out. It’s a mixture between amusement because people can’t believe it’s still happening, and you know, concern for this bridge because this bridge is just gonna cave in one day.”

Kevin Mahern says he's personally picked up debris after accidents during his walks to Garfield Park. "There was a piece that laid there for two weeks before I had the gumption to pick it up. It was like a 14 foot long fiberglass piece.” That’s despite those clearance signs posted before the approach. “It reads 11' 8" and that's what it is. I measured it,” Mahern tells me. We measured it as well using a basic 35’ tape measure, and our measurements across the roadway all exceeded that height.

Courtesy: Sean Harris

“It's not misrepresentation. There's signs all along, both coming and going” Mahern says.

We reached out to CSX and it says it is aware of recent incidents at the bridge, but tells us: "The railroad has no control or authority in these matters as the roadway authority is responsible for measuring, erecting the proper signage on or around the structure."

CSX says in this case, that authority would be the City of Indianapolis. However, the Indianapolis Department of Public Works tells us it's the responsibility of the entity who owns the bridge to look into collisions with it.

CSX says if it receives a report it will send a bridge inspector out to determine the integrity of the bridge.

DPW also told WTHR that the CSX bridge at East Pleasant Run Parkway is of lower height because of its age. So if CSX replaces the bridge, it will have to conform to current clearance requirements.

However, it's unclear if that'll happen anytime soon, because CSX representatives tell us inspectors found the bridge is structurally safe.

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