KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The famed Independence Avenue Bridge remains “undefeated.” But the trucks that keep hitting it might soon have more of a fighting chance.
Mayor Quinton Lucas hinted earlier last year in a tweet that it might be time to take action instead of maintaining the inside joke that the bridge remains an undefeated champion. Now the city confirms that an advance warning system to alert truck drivers to the low clearance is in the works.
The famous phrase “undefeated champion” is associated with the bridge that has its own t-shirt and Facebook page.
Construction crews on scene Thursday have been at the bridge time and time again too, making the same repairs to the flashing bright yellow sign alerting drivers to the 12 foot low clearance.
“You can see that it says only 12 feet. You can see that from here,” Antonio Bell said at a bus stop at the top of the hill before drivers begin their descent into infamy.
Problem is, the standard semi truck is 13.5 feet high. So driver after driver keeps plowing into the bridge, most recently last month when it was hit by a Lawrence trash truck.
“A lot of times GPS doesn’t give you the proper way you can go, especially with a truck. So a lot of times they are driving down the street and they won’t turn off, they’ll think they can make it,” Gary Brown said.
Locals say they’ve seen warning signs added farther up the road over the years, but nothing changes.
“They are supposed to be aware. It’s not that they need more signs saying ‘hey it’s a low bridge’, they just need to be more aware of what they are doing,” Bell said.
But now Kansas City is working with Kansas City Terminal Railroad, who owns the bridge, to identify funding to install a warning curtain hanging over the road. The curtain would alert any truck driver that hits it they are about to hit something with a lot less give. But after so many trucks have been gobbled up, the jury’s still out among onlookers on whether the system would be a success.
“People don’t listen, but hopefully it works,” Aeriana Taylor said.
Kansas City hopes to install that new warning system later this year, dependent upon funding.