Less than a week after the installation of the new low bridge warning curtain system leading to the infamous Independence Avenue truck-eating bridge, the westbound system of hanging bollards remained half intact with the other half laying in the easement in front of Taqueria Mexico after being struck by an over-height truck on Wednesday evening, February 7.
Social media lit up quickly the following morning with reports that the large piece that broke away from the curtain mounting pole had been spirited off by a scrapper who attempted to cash it in at a local salvage yard.
According to Courtney Stephens, a spokesperson for the city’s Public Works Department, city staff have recovered one of the two sections and are currently working with the installation contractor to reattach the piece they have within the next day.
Stephens stated, the new warning curtain system is working properly as at least three trucks are “still intact thanks to the installation of the Independence Avenue bridge warning curtain.”
She added that the system was designed as a break-away system, stating that if a truck contacts the curtain with enough force, it breaks off to avoid tearing down the structure. “The curtain is designed to be reattached to the mast arm using clips and the purchase of the equipment included additional parts should any pieces become damaged during contact or cannot be recovered.”
Daniel Yuman, the owner of Taqueria Mexico restaurant that’s located roughly 60 feet away from the westbound curtain location, had initially expressed concerns about trucks coming through his parking lot damaging customer and employee vehicles to avoid the curtain. With this week’s curtain strike and the possibility of an 11-foot-long piece of U-Channel aluminum weighing roughly 180-200 pounds flying through the air, potentially striking a vehicle or a person, Yuman’s original concerns seem trivial. “That’s just crazy that it’s designed to fly off like that,” Yuman said. “I heard it hit the ground and if that would have hit someone, it could have killed them,” he said. “That’s just dumb.”
Crews with Black & McDonald re-hung the recovered piece of the curtain on Friday over both lanes until the other piece of the curtain is recovered or another piece can be fabricated. According to Stephens, the maintenance of the equipment will transition to city staff so equipment and replacement needs can be addressed more efficiently in the future. If the missing piece is seen or located, please contact the city’s 311 Action Center or Black & McDonald directly at 816-483-0257.