Saturday, November 15, 2014

Ouch!

Vegetable truck a tad too tall for RR overpass on South East Street

Towed through Amherst town center a couple hours later

What the driver saw from his side. No 10' warning sign

South East Street underpass (no signage) July, 2011

Bike path overpass a half mile away is clearly marked

36 comments:

Anonymous said...

To quote The Godfather: How did things ever get this far?

Anonymous said...

As a matter of fact, the driver DID fall off of the turnip wagon just the day before.

Anonymous said...

I bet the tow truck driver made him an offer he could not refuse.

Anonymous said...

I love MassLive's "Amherst Blogger, Larry Kelly"...they're getting their news from you, Larry! Do they pay you a cut also? If not, they should.

Also, you should copyright your stories and pictures, esp now that so many local news agencies steal your stuff all the time.

Larry Kelley said...

Copyright is automatic as soon as I hit the publish button (I looked it up when the UMass Town Gown consultant recently borrowed a photo I published.)

But yes, there are additional measures to strengthen that.

Dr. Ed said...

I firmly believe that even one sign on the bridge itself isn't enough for any bridge under 11 feet -- that's school bus and (I believe) fire truck.

No sign at all -- WTF???

Forget the DPW, how does a competent police department not notice that there isn't a sign there? They are paid to look for things like that.

Anonymous said...

If you were driving this truck, wouldn't ya stop and check out the clearance? Wouldn't you think "gee, I might not make it..." A warning sign would probly not have helped an oblivious driver. Maybe the driver was typing a reply to some point here on "Only In..."

Dr. Ed said...

All I found on MassLive was a statement that "Amherst blogger Larry Kelly posted a photo of the truck being towed through downtown at 12:45, indicating that the road had been reopened."

That is legitimate reporting. They owe you nothing for that

Larry Kelley said...

Well now they owe me for getting you to go there.

Anonymous said...

How did Maria Geryk and John Musante allow this to happen?

Harrrrrumph!

Anonymous said...

Geryk! I Knew it!! But seriously, folks...was the driver just in another world??

Dr. Ed said...

"If you were driving this truck"

Ever driven one? I have.

Ever driven one at night? I highly doubt that his headlights illuminated the bridge AT ALL and do you have any idea how many abandoned railroad abutments there are -- bridge removed, granite block or concrete uprights remaining?

There's one over in Pslmer that would have maybe a 7 foot clearance if the bridge were still there (it isn't) as the pavement was leveled after the bridge was removed.

"...wouldn't ya stop and check out the clearance?"

On a bridge that you never saw?

"Wouldn't you think "gee, I might not make it..."

Do you have any idea how many bridges have the appearance of being too low? It's just like a green light -- you have to trust that the highway designer didn't program the system to give someone else a green at the same time and you have to trust that low bridges are posted.

Likewise ones too weak to support a heavy (but not overweight) truck. If it's not posted and you go through it, it's the town's fault...

"A warning sign would probly not have helped an oblivious drive"

This is a regulatory sign, not a warning sign. It's the same as a "Stop" sign -- not a warning.

And the town and/or the RR is responsible for this accident. It is supposed to be posted....

Dr. Ed said...

Now if there had been a sign, then Maria Geryk would be at fault for her shoddy math curriculum....

(That's why there is almost always a 2nd sign saying "Low Bridge Ahead.")

Amherst is somewhat unique in having a bridge like this -- on a well maintained road, elsewhere a bridge like that would have flashing lights and more than even one sign on it.

How many warning signs are there for the bridge by Amherst College? On the one in downtown Northampton?

Anonymous said...

Although if you look at the Gazette's picture, How Fast Was The Truck GOING?!?!?

Of course the problem with trucks under a certain weight (and often even heavier farm trucks) is that anyone -- even Maria Geryk -- can legally drive them. Anyone...

Anonymous said...

How did get to the bridge? It is after the bike path bridge which is also 10ft

Anonymous said...

I heard Shabazz was driving the truck and Baptiste was navigating.

Anonymous said...

There must be some way that we can knit this into our overall grand conspiracy theory about life in Amherst, and the usual suspects.

Whatever happens in Amherst is someone's fault, right?

Come on, people, blame somebody. Name names, for God's sake!

Anonymous said...

I heard the truck was driven by a CAN complaining about conspiracy theories.

Dr. Ed said...

"Come on, people, blame somebody. Name names, for God's sake!"

OK, assuming the accuracy of Larry;s reporting that there was no sign there --

1: Gerald Mooning is ultimately responsible for the lack of a sign being there -- I don't know where "general engineering principles" ends and actual regulations begin, but I'm reasonably certain that a 10' bridge is supposed to be posted.

2: Chief Livingston is ultimately responsible for the APD, the duties of which inclde looking for and hence identifying hazards to life & safety -- this being both.

3: The railroad -- if they actually own the bridge (and likely do) is also responsible because it's their hazard.

The town is thus liable, the RR may be as well...

The hazard was't marked!!! That IS someone's fault....

Assuming, of course, that Larry is reporting accurately. I believe hi is -- but I wasn't there. Crumpled remnants of a sign *would* be relevant here...

A truck hitting the bridge that hard likely would take a sign off of it -- and damage the structural iron as well -- the safety of the bridge (which AMtrack still uses, I believe) is a very real question....

Anonymous said...

There does not need to be a sign on that side. In order for a truck 10 + ft high to get to that side it would have to go through Amherst College maintenance area, up over Fort Hill and out to South East street.

Anonymous said...

I think that is the trestle closer to Stanley Street.

Anonymous said...

The lack of the 10' sign on this sign of the bridge was pointed out to the town years ago. What's up with this? How hard is it?

Anonymous said...

Somebody asked how did the truck end up between the two low underpasses and it seems that

Anon @ November 15, 2014 at 6:23 PM

implicitly figured it out:

it went through Amherst College's maintenance area, up over Fort Hill, past the Book & Plow Farm, and out to South East Street.

Hooray for Clever Anonymous Neighbors!!!

Larry Kelley said...

That was the route for the tow truck who came to take it away.

Anonymous said...

Ed, it's Mooring and Livingstone. It's ebola's fault.

Anonymous said...

The fingerpointing.....

The blaming.....

The armchair quarterbacking.....

The know-it-alls......

The paranoia.....

They're why we're here, reading the comments.

Dr. Ed said...

Ed, it's Mooring and Livingstone

Whatever.

if there was no sign on that bridge, these two men really are the ones ultimately responsible.

Notwithstanding this, a "truck route" AROUND these bridges should be clearly marked.

Heaven forbid, what if -- in an emergency where you well might have drivers unfamiliar with town (can you say "understaffed AFD" and "Mutual Aid"?) -- what if you had a fire truck or school bus that desperately needed to get to the other side of that bridge right NOW

"...through Amherst College's maintenance area, up over Fort Hill, past the Book & Plow Farm..."

If this is an approved truck route, then it ought to be posted as such. Otherwise, it should not have been used -- what about that dirt road that comes out by where Hill Boss used to live, and then a right onto 116 which -- incidentally goes by both Larry's house and the center of town -- and is the route I personally suspect the tow truck took.

Bottom line: 1" Someone screwed up if there wasn't a sign there -- and that means the Town did.

MORE IMPORTANT: 2: There ought to be a marked route AROUND these bridges. Northampton has one...


Trucks inherently try to avoid downtowns -- and for reasons like what happened a couple years back involving a bicycle. This is not a bad thing.

So you gotta MARK YOUR LOW BRIDGES! The TOWN has to do it (or be responsible for ensuring it is done) and the TOWN is responsible (liable) if it isn't.

Anonymous said...

Those damn kids stole the sign!

Anonymous said...

Does anyone think that a sign would have prevented this accident? I doubt it, but it could have maybe prevented the lawsuit I smell.

Anonymous said...

Define "CAN" for this foreigner please.

Anonymous said...

Both of the underpasses on that road need better lighting and signage.

They become virtually invisible against the dark sky

Anonymous said...

Do trains still run on that thing? Can't be taken down I suppose. Can it?

Dr. Ed said...

"Do trains still run on that thing?"

YES!

I believe passenger trains -- Amtrak's Vermonter -- still go over it daily. Any train going south from Amherst's station must, and while the Vermonter is being re-routed through Hamp, there is talk of an AMM/Springfield service in the future. Something that actually may make economic sense, not to mention actually do some of the stuff that mass transit is intended to do, but I digress...

I believe it is the New England Central Railroad. See this

These old railroad bridges are more sturdy than you might think -- after some horrific bridge collapses in the early/mid 19th Century, the railroads way overbuilt their bridges, largely for customer relations & marketing purposes -- to convince people that their trains were safe to ride in.

I'm not so sure about the railbed, but unless it was damaged by the truck, I suspect that bridge is both structurally sound and safe.

Remember that Iron (unlike Steel) does not need to be painted because the rust (Iron Oxide) serves as a protective coating, precluding Oxygen getting to the Iron underneath and hence precluding further rusting. The abutments are massive granite blocks which, unlike concrete, do not spall & crack, and are too massive for the frost to shift -- other than preventing damage from trees growing in them, they rarely require maintenance.

It cost a lot more, particularly in man-hours, to build bridges the way the railroads did -- but they essentially were building them to last forever.

"Can't be taken down I suppose. Can it?'

What CAN be done (and should) is lowering the road. Literally -- as was done in Northampton (and I suspect on Main St in Amherst as well). The only problem is that you don't want to undermine the abutments lest the bridge collapse so you'd probably wind up with a roadway even narrower than it is now.

Unlike trucks, trains can't deal with hills -- that's part of why the railroad bridge in the so-called "Cheapside" neighborhood of Greenfield is so high. (It's also why abandoned railbeds make such lovely bikepaths -- they are essentially level.) The rails can not go higher -- and the railroad has the "right of way" -- it gives the public permission to cross (or drive under) its tracks.

The solution is building a NEW bridge -- wide enough for the road (with shoulders/bikelanes/sidewalks) to go *straight* under it *and* excavated deep enough to have at least the "Interstate Spec" 13'6" clearance.

Instead of spending lots of money to put power lines underground or preserving a quite lovely (but private) window in a non-public building, the public good would be well served by building the railroad a new bridge, which is no small undertaking because they are running freight trains through there -- daily -- and will need some alternative route around it.

This would involve either a temporary bridge or temporary embankment, track on top of that, thus permitting trains to bypass the bridge which is then removed & replaced. This, of course, would not only be expensive but would interfere with the use of the street -- and in Amherst there would likely be a major fuss about the fact that the new bridge likely wouldn't have abutments of stacked Granite blocks as the current one does.

This is why that old bridge is still there -- and why a lot of communities (in the latter half of the 20th Century) were very happy to see railroads (and streetcars) discontinued with their right-of-way abandoned.

Like WMECO's willingness to move poles, I doubt the railroad would really much object to having a different bridge there, as long as someone else pays for it.

Dr. Ed said...

Three other things:

First, this all points to Amherst's desperate need of a four-lane highway link to the MassPike

ALL of the major problems in Amherst -- lack of commercial development, insufficient housing (and related density-exacerbated student misbehavior), traffic congestion, speeding cars, etc -- ALL of it is at least exacerbated (if not caused) by the difficulty of getting to a good highway heading East.

Believe it or not, a lot of people actually take the Turnpike as far as Springfield, come up I-91 and then the 9 miles of Route 9 to Amherst -- *I* even did that when I was bringing a (CDL) truck into Amherst.

What is needed is a continuation of the 116 Bypass -- and probably it going over the railroad tracks.

The real solution to people driving fast on residential streets is to move the traffic somewhere else. It's not like you are going to not have traffic -- and people with a long drive are going to want to be going 50-55 MPH, not 25-35 MPH.

Second, not only do trains use that bridge (and go through downtown Amherst daily -- actually nightly) but some of those tank cars have some rather nasty things in them.

One of the few things that the United Nations has actually accomplished is creating a numbering system for dangerous chemicals. Every truck and railroad car with hazardous cargo has a diamond with a four digit number inside, and you can Google those numbers if you wish.

My point: there well may be some quite nasty stuff -- in fairly large quantities -- going through town. Something potentially of far greater concern than Freddie fratboy & Suzie Sophmore's loud stereo.

My third point is what's involved in evacuating a couple square *miles* of town -- at 2AM? Evacuating the UMass Dorms because the wind is blowing that way?!? (Southwest alone is about 6,500 people -- that's 155 *packed* school buses (42 adults in each)....)

That is what I was thinking about when I said "school bus drivers" and "fire truck drivers" from out-of-town desperately needing to get to the other side of these low bridges and hence the need for a marked route.

You well might have State Troopers from Westfield & Pittsfield driving commandeered school buses, you might have servicemen from Westfield driving military vehicles. In rural areas, the school bus often goes home with the driver -- and the rest are parked in a manner to facilitate the drivers getting them out onto the road in the morning -- in a call for help, there would be a *lot* of people essentially "steering by the sun."

They're not going to know about some shortcut through Amherst College's maintenance yard that *I* didn't even know about.

Boston now has marked "Tsunami" evacuation routes to higher ground outside the city (that I've found quite helpful in the bedlam of rush hour traffic) and while getting around the College Street bridge is fairly intuitive, there needs to be a marked route around the other three.

Signs get stolen -- OK, windows get broken too -- and while you hopefully can identify/prosecute the perps, you still gotta replace both missing/stolen signs and broken windows. (That's also why it is a good idea to have more than one warning sign...)

Anonymous said...

" Anonymous said...
Those damn kids stole the sign!

November 16, 2014 at 5:15 AM"

NOW we're talking - Blame the Students!! If not for them we would not have any trucks, only tractors.

Or maybe we would still have horse and buggy here?

Anonymous said...

Regarding the "damn kids..." I will quote John Kerry: "It was a botched joke. ". Lol. Lighten up.