Hundreds Of LA Area Bridges Too Low

August 24, 1999

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Hundreds of bridges in Los Angeles and Orange counties are lower than modern standards, reports the Los Angeles Times in the wake of an investigation of accidents caused by oversized trucks hitting overpasses.

The state Senate investigation last week discovered that 24 accidents have been caused by the California Department of Transportation routing trucks wrong during the past 3 * years. The legislative committee started looking into the issue after a motorist was killed last month when a 7,000-pound fuel tank was knocked from a truck as it passed under an overpass.
About 45% of Los Angeles County's 1,060 overpasses and nearly 22% of Orange County's are lower than the current standard of 16 feet, 6 inches, reports the LA Times. Caltrans officials estimate 200,000 oversized trucks will travel the state's roads this year. About half of those will be higher than 14 feet, and about 12,000 will need even more clearance than 16 feet, 6 inches. Oversize traffic has increased nearly 40% in the state in the last three years, while staff in the permitting office has risen only 10%.
Meanwhile, across the country in Maryland, the state Highway Administration is planning to put in electronic equipment at weigh stations that will measure truck heights. The Baltimore Harbor Tunnel already has an electronic device to make sure that trucks are no higher than 13 feet, 6 inches. The weigh station move is being made after a pedestrian bridge collapsed this summer on I-695 after being hit by an overheight load.

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