You never know what’s up there. A trucker found that out early this week in Westerville, Ohio, near Columbus. Turning a corner, he probably felt a slight tug, heard a thud, and lo – he had snagged a low-hanging wire attached to a traffic signal, and the signal light crashed to the pavement. The trucker stopped, set the parking brakes and turned on his flashers.
The police report says the semi was coming off Main Street that, in spite of its name, is actually a side street. By city ordinance it’s weight-limited to 5 tons, so he shouldn’t have been on it. But police didn’t cite him because there are no signs announcing the limitation.
The low-hanging wire was suspended over the side street; apparently its height was thought to be sufficient if no large trucks used the street. But this one did, probably because the driver had a pick-up or delivery on it.
The semitrailer’s tall nose snagged the wire and brought it down, along with the signal it was attached to. Thus the mess on State Street, Westerville’s main drag and north-south State Route 3, which carries a lot of car and truck traffic.
It made local news because a TV station’s crew happened to be nearby shooting footage of a tavern whose front had been breached by an out-of-control car. So the news crew got two stories in one trip. As a TV new guy in the distant past, I can appreciate that.
The Westerville police report says the semi is owned by an area transport company run by the driver, and was duly registered and insured. I’m leaving his name out of this because he really wasn’t at fault, except maybe he should’ve been more vigilant about overhead obstructions.
Interestingly, the report designates the entire tractor-trailer as “unit #1,” and identifies the tractor as a 2000 Freightliner but does not note the make of the trailer. The report states, “The top of unit #1 caught a low-hanging electric wire that crossed the intersection. As unit #1 continued to make the left turn, the cable pulled the traffic signal post, causing the light to fall.”
The news footage shows the wire hanging off the trailer. I'm guessing that the wire was stretched by the tractor's roof fairing, then caught on the trailer's nose and was pulled some more. Anyway, it was a case of a too-tall truck versus a too-low wire, and the truck won.
No one was hurt in this mishap, or in the one involving the car and the tavern. I’ll bet the trucker will henceforth keep his eyes open for what might be up above.