The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

October 4, 2012

Truck-eating bridge needs much better warning system

Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — When we hear the words “bridge” and “teeth,” we start shuddering about the dentist.

But hold the laughing gas: This editorial isn’t about getting flossed or drilled. It’s about adding monster teeth to the frightening truck-eating bridge in our fair city.

The Maine Street Bridge commonly is referred to as the “can opener” for its unceremonious beheading of vehicles too tall to clear the structure.

Trucks frequently crash into the railroad overpass on Maine. The bridge already has taken 10 hits this year, costing the city of Enid nearly $10,000 in cleanup costs.

City commissioners discussed the underpass Tuesday during their study session, as they considered what could be done about the decapitation situation. Clueless drivers are apparently ignoring the posted 11-foot, 4-inch height for the underpass, which is owned by Union Pacific.

Literally looking to put some teeth into preventing future incidents, city commissioners discussed fashioning the bridge with fangs. Jacob Foos, city spokesman, showed an image designed by Wayne Shearon of the bridge painted with menacing teeth and the words “Truck Eating Bridge!”

City Manager Eric Benson said this incisive incisor approach is taken occasionally in the United Kingdom and suggested it could be worth a try here. Because height signs commonly are ignored, Benson said the jagged jaws could be a better, if whimsical, warning.

The city is taking bids for the monster bridge makeover. Then a low-bid recommendation will be presented to the city commissioners.

This may all sound like dramatic fun, but we believe something needs to be done. As we’ve said before, the existing warnings are clearly not sufficient to prevent close encounters of the bridge kind, and we need to do a better job of warning or stopping over-height traffic.

Sometimes, showing your teeth can be a good thing.