[KIRKLAND, Wash] – (MTN) On Saturday evening, a group of residents placed a warning banner on an infamous Kirkland bridge that frequently “eats” trucks due to the 11’6″ clearance. According to Kirkland officials, the retired Northern Pacific railway bridge located at Kirkland Way and Railroad Ave is cosmetically battered but structurally sound despite dozens of close encounters of the worst kind.
Marked on Google Maps as a tourist attraction as Truckbane, the Truck-Eating Bridge, a combination of low clearance, unique geography, and the street layout makes it challenging to create a better solution to warn truck drivers.
The bridge has become so famous in Kirkland it has its own Instagram and at least two Facebook pages. Local social media lights up with pictures and comments every time Truckbane claims another victim. In a recent Tweet by the Kirkland Police Department, a sketch artist drew what appears to be Truckbane revealing its true self. Just this past week, Truckbane was able to feed twice.
In December of 2020, Kirkland officials installed 12 new signs to supplement the existing signage warning of the low overpass. Despite the additional warnings, Truckbane continues to feed on unsuspecting vehicles.
At a thousand feet out, the first signs warn of a low bridge ahead. At 700 feet, two more signs warn of a low overheight bridge with 11’6″ clearance. Approximately 300 feet away, a final sign warns that overheight vehicles must turn onto an alternative road to avoid the bridge. Then, at both intersections, an additional sign indicates again that overheight trucks must turn.
City engineers have stated that having a suspended overheight sign isn’t possible. Because the bridge is part of the Cross Kirkland Trail and in a combined residential and light industrial area, the city is concerned a snapped cable could strike a pedestrian. Having an overheight detector isn’t possible either because of Department of Transportation requirements on its location, making it unfeasible due to the unique intersection.
Some have suggested lowering the road under the bridge, creating more clearance, but the road already sits at a low spot. Additional lowering could create drainage problems and would come with an expensive price tag. Others have suggested replacing the bridge itself with more clearance, but it is impractical from a cost perspective.
Truckbane feeds exclusively out of sight. Due to the Cross Kirkland Trail location, the trestle, and the intersection layout, no homes or businesses have a clear view. Despite numerous appeals for a webcam to capture Truckbane hunting its prey, photographers have only been able to get shots after a kill.
Complicating things, Kirkland Way is frequently used as a bypass to move between downtown and access to I-405 at 85th. Apps such as Waze, Google Maps, and Apple Maps recommend Kirkland Way as an alternate route to bypass traffic. For southbound drivers, a blind turn obscures the bridge until it’s too late if they didn’t notice the signs – and despite the city’s best efforts, drivers are missing the signs.
The banner serves as a final warning for drivers now but the city of 90,000 wonders, when will Truckbane strike again?
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