Stopping semis from getting stuck in Spokane: City & BNSF respond

For the third time in less than one week, a semi truck got stuck under a rail bridge in Spokane. The most recent instance happened Monday morning under the bridge north of Helena and Sprague.

When KHQ asked the Spokane Streets Department how this can be prevented in the future, they said it's up to the individual truck driver to know how tall their truck is and to watch height signs marked on every bridge.

"All of our city bridges are marked, they've got heights on them," said Mark Serbousek, director of the Spokane Streets Department. "What we find a lot of times these truck drivers are driving along and they're either lost or not paying attention and they don't see the signs."

Besides the signs, the city says they can't do much more to fix the issue.

"We can't really raise (the bridges) and can't dig down lower because the foundations for the bridges are down there too," said Serbousek.

After the semi got stuck under the Helena Street bridge Monday, BNSF stopped rail traffic for one hour. They also said each time this happened in the last week in Spokane, they had crews check the rails and the bridges and found them all to be safe.

KHQ also spoke with Jerry White Jr., Spokane's River Keeper. He's put together reports on local bridges for the Waterkeeper Alliance. He said he would like to see more oversight when a truck gets stuck under a bridge.

"Right now the industry audits itself and the federal government will actually look at a certain percentage of bridge inspections," said White. "We really feel that the federal government should take a much more proactive role in inspecting these bridges, and then make that information far more public."

WSDOT and the City of Spokane have resources online so drivers can plan their trip ahead of time around bridge height restrictions:

http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/data/tools/bridgeclearance/

https://static.spokanecity.org/documents/streets/maintenance/bridge-clearances-list-2015-04-20.pdf

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