Industry Insights

Striking distance: Bridges that create big headaches for Australia’s truckies

It’s the headline you see splashed across newspapers and Facebook feeds every couple of months: ‘Truck Strikes Bridge.’

These frequent trysts between heavy vehicle and even heavier infrastructure are often down to poor signage or occasional drivers, but the photo of a cabin wedged halfway into an overpass always tends to encourage the public to lay the boot into the trucking industry at large.

The latest such incidents include a big rig getting stuck under a Queensland rail bridge and, not to be outdone, the infamous Montague Street Bridge claiming another victim down in Melbourne.

These accidents caused delays and annoyed plenty of motorists, but thankfully caused only minor damage or injury.

While the creators of the Twitter profiles for Melbourne’s Montague Street Bridge, and the gantry that was installed last year, find the humour in these regular knocks (and some videos of bridge strikes admittedly do look like Australia’s Funniest Home Videos entries), there are also very real costs.

In this blog post, we travel around the country, looking at the bridges that pose the biggest problems for Australian truckers and hopefully we can save a few trailers in the process.

Location: Montague Street, South Melbourne, Victoria

Maximum clearance height: 3.0m

No list of Australia’s most problematic bridges could exclude the notorious Montague Street Bridge. Located just south of Melbourne’s central business district, this truck-shaving behemoth has attracted a cult following online (also here) for viciously hacking into heavy vehicles.

These days, Melbourne media outlets are so numb by repetition that new strikes at the infamous rail bridge site provoke little more reaction than “it has happened again”.

Location: King William Street Subway Bridge, Bayswater, Western Australia

Maximum clearance height: 3.8 metres

A remarkable news story made the rounds last year concerning a flier in the window of a Bayswater IGA.

The flier, posted by a mystery Nostradamus, predicted a truck would strike the King William Street Subway Bridge on Wednesday, November 30.

What should have been a joke became a startlingly accurate glimpse into the future, when a truck hit the bridge on the afternoon of Tuesday, November 29.

As you can imagine, any bridge that attracts timed collision-predictions is bound to gain a certain level of notoriety .

Indeed, the incident at the end of 2016 was just the latest in a long, unfortunate history of strikes at the Perth bridge.

Location: Allwood Street rail bridge, Indooroopilly, Queensland

Maximum clearance height: 2.8 metres

15 minutes’ west of Brisbane’s central business district lurks the rail bridge at Allwood Street, Indooroopilly.

This low-hanging overpass is notorious for the knocks it’s taken over the years, prompting Queensland Rail to install protection beams and Brisbane City Council to erect warning signs around the frequently-clipped structure in 2015.

The incidents are still cropping up however.

Location: Parkes Way, Canberra, Australian Capital Territory

Maximum clearance height: 4.5 metres

Parkes Way in our nation’s capital is a notable addition to this list for having created a gauntlet of varying hazards for trucks – bridges being just one.

Truck drivers travelling along the road have to contend with both the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge and the Acton tunnel.

At least one truck found the latter an issue when the excavator it was carrying tore through the roof, causing $1.2 million in damage.

The tunnel has a maximum clearance height of 4.9 metres, making it above the height that requires signage, but serves as a pertinent reminder to drivers to know their load’s height – lest they tear through tunnel tiles containing asbestos and hold up traffic for three days.

Location: Napier Street Bridge, Footscray, Victoria

Maximum clearance height: 4.0 metres

While the Montague Street Bridge claims the lion’s share of notable truck scalps in Melbourne, it’s not the only bridge in the Victorian capital to cause trouble for wayward truckies.

Over in Footscray, the Napier Street Bridge recorded 43 knocks in the five years between 2010 and 2015.

The bridge was back in the news in March this year when a container truck hit it two weeks after it had a new safety barrier installed.

The barrier, which is designed to push over-height containers backwards so they don’t land on the footpath or bike lane, did just that… an unfortunate circumstance for the car sitting directly behind the truck.

Thankfully the car’s driver escaped with only minor injuries.

Dishonourable mentions

As any truck driver knows, there are a lot more than five shocking bridges you need to watch out for. Blackspots that just missed a place on this list include:

Burwood Road rail bridge, Burwood, New South Wales

Countess Street rail bridge, Brisbane, Queensland

Jervois Bridge, New Port, South Australia

Agree with our round up? What are the other bridges causing problems around the nation?

Help other drivers by sounding off about the bridges they should be looking out for.