Crane accident calls attention to antiquated height of First Street bridge

Posted at 1:04 AM, Feb 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-02-14 01:04:32-05

A Richmond bridge hit by a truck Wednesday was built before modern bridge height standards took effect, according to Virginia Department of Transportation spokeswoman Lindsay LeGrand.

CBS6’s Mark Holmberg told you the Honda Civic a woman was driving on Wednesday was crushed by the booms of a crane that had been scraped off a flatbed truck by the First Street bridge Wednesday afternoon.

LeGrand told CBS6 the First Street bridge over I-95 in Richmond was built in 1958, and its clearance height varies along the length of the bridge.

At the lowest point on the First Street bridge, the clearance height is thirteen feet eleven inches, but the truck involved in Wednesday’s incident hit the bridge at a point where the clearance height in fourteen feet five inches, according to LeGrand.

That is two years before modern bridge height standards took effect, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s website.

The DOT website says prior to 1960, 14 feet was sufficient for the minimum height of a bridge.

But, after 1960, the minimum height for a bridge was raised to 16 feet.

Virginia law requires all trucks to be 13 feet 6 inches or shorter, and police charged the driver involved in Wednesday’s crash with equipment being over height.

Truck drivers we spoke to said it falls on them to make sure their trucks do not go beyond 13 feet 6 inches.

“If you load a truck, measure it, when you’re done, measure it again,” veteran truck driver, Jay Ball said.

“Definitely pay attention to your road signs for your bridges coming up,” new truck driver, Marvin Fye said.

Still, CBS 6 wanted to know why the bridge hasn’t been rebuilt to meet modern height standards, especially, after LeGrand confirmed Wednesday’s crash wasn’t the first time the First Street bridge had been hit by a truck.

LeGrand said there are no plans to rebuild the First Street bridge because it is in good condition.

However, there are plans to rebuild another bridge on I-95 up the road in Hanover, the Lewistown Bridge.

The clearance height on that bridge is 14 feet, 7 inches, but VDOT plans to reconstruct the bridge to more than 16 feet to bring it in line with modern standards.

LeGrand said the Lewistown Bridge is a priority for VDOT because of its condition, widening needs, and turn lane needs.

04:36:40 definitely pay attention to your road signs for your bridges coming up