The Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass, located in Durham, North Carolina, United States stands at 11 foot 8 inches and is a bit too short. Due to this reason, trucks often collide with the bridge to have their roofs scrapped off. This has given rise to the name “the can opener bridge”.
The federal government recommends that bridges have a clearance of at least 14 feet but the railroad trestle was built back in the 40s and there were no minimum standards at the time. Durhan resident Jürgen Henn works across the street from the bridge and has been witnessing accidents for years.
One day he decided to set up a video camera to record the accidents. He did so in April 2008 and has been recording them ever since for his website. By the end of 2015, he had videos of more than a hundred trucks falling victim to the can opener bridge.
Henn explains on his website that the bridge cannot be raised because it would require the tracks to be raised for several miles to adjust the incline and the railroad company is not willing to pay for the enormous expense. The bridge cannot be lowered either because of a major sewer line running only 4 feet under the street.
The railroad authorities were concerned about the bridge and the rails above and not the trucks so they installed a heavy steel crash beam in front of the bridge that takes up most of the impact. This protects the actual structure. But, there have been so many crashes that even the beam needed to be replaced.
The city authorities have posted prominent signs stating low clearance starting from 3 blocks away but the drivers rarely pay any heed to them. Now another system has been installed that detects when an over-height vehicle is approaching and flashes lights at the drivers. Even this measure is not enough and there is at least one crash per month.
You can see the victims of the can opener bridge in the video below: