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Author Topic: Accuracy of bridge/overpass clearances over time  (Read 3668 times)
HighTechRedneck
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« on: January 26, 2009, 05:50:09 AM »

Another thread brought to mind something a lifetime trucker told me.

He said that when highways get resurfaced, they don't always update the clearance signs/data (the data that goes to map companies).  Actually he said they rarely update it.  A couple of resurfacing projects and it could become a clearance problem.

I know there are quite a few lifetime truck/bus drivers on the forum.  What say you?
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cody
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« Reply #1 on: January 26, 2009, 05:54:13 AM »

That is also something I've always wondered about, we don't have very many areas up here that have over passes but we do have a couple of railroad bridges that are used by the mining companies to haul iron ore to the docks for loading and those signs have never been changed as far as I'm aware in as long as I can remember tho the highway has been redone many times.
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Nick Badame Refrig/ACC
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« Reply #2 on: January 26, 2009, 06:14:29 AM »

Hi Guy's,

I learned first hand with an Amtrack overpass in Livingston N.J. sept, 07'.

The beginning of the entrance way was ok but, a quarter way in I heard my KVH sat dome crunching so bad that I had

to back out of the tunnel and all the way to the next intersection. There were so many cars behind me that it was almost

impossible to back up but, I just kept backing slowly and sure enough, everybody got out of my way.. I think!!

Needless to say, the sat dome was distroyed.. Which led to the new 5" high A-7 being installed.. Grin

I just don't trust anything posted under 12' anymore.. I live by 13' signs now.

Nick-
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« Reply #3 on: January 26, 2009, 06:17:42 AM »

Not a truck driver  but in My former life shipped a lot of industrial machinery.  I had a electron beam welder wedged under an overpass on I65 south  of Montgomery Alabama because of a road resurface of I65 and it was a hell of a mess.  Was sued by the person that bought the welder from Me, sued the trucking company etc.  I often wonder about overpasses and bridges when i pass under them.  John
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BG6
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« Reply #4 on: January 26, 2009, 06:21:51 AM »

Another thread brought to mind something a lifetime trucker told me.

He said that when highways get resurfaced, they don't always update the clearance signs/data (the data that goes to map companies).  Actually he said they rarely update it.  A couple of resurfacing projects and it could become a clearance problem.

I know there are quite a few lifetime truck/bus drivers on the forum.  What say you?

Standard semi van (box) trailers are 13'6" standard height.  As long as you are shorter than that, you can co anywhere you follow one of those.

Remember also that IF the sign is wrong, the state has a liability if someone is damaged because they trusted the sign. 

But, in the end, you really can't know until you get past the obstacle!
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belfert
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« Reply #5 on: January 26, 2009, 06:25:16 AM »

These days it is common to grind down the old surface before resurfacing, but not always done and concrete is not ground down before laying an asphalt overlay.

My bus is 12' 9" so I am a lot taller than many.  I cringed a few months back going under a 13' 4" overpass since there is an extreme grade on either side.  I slowed almost to a stop for that one.

Is there any interstate that is not at least 13'6" everywhere?  I suppose out east there might be some exceptions.  Some states label the clearance of every overpass and I laugh when they label an overpass that has 20' of clearance.  Any load requiring that much clearance wouldn't make it far and someone planning to transport something that big is going to know how high every overpass is anyhow.
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Brian Elfert - 1995 Dina Viaggio 1000 Series 60/B500 - 75% done but usable - Minneapolis, MN
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« Reply #6 on: January 26, 2009, 06:28:28 AM »

We live by 13'6" signs since we are 13' tall. Not to mention electrical lines, telephone lines, cable lines, and tree branches. We now carry an electric pole chain saw, so we can trim some branches in case of emergency (of course we ask permission). I do not know about bridge heights and how accurate, but we don't take any chances. Also in Canada, make sure that you know how tall you are in the meters. That can be helpful too.

Belfert, I am with you. Something that is that low is tough. We always proceed with extreme caution in those cases. We even have people out front if necessary.

God bless,

John  
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WEC4104
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« Reply #7 on: January 26, 2009, 06:54:13 AM »


[/quote]

Remember also that IF the sign is wrong, the state has a liability if someone is damaged because they trusted the sign. 

[/quote]

While it might be true that the state is morally at fault for having a mislabelled underpass, in most cases you cannot sue the Government for liability issues.  With only some exceptions, the Government is insulated from liability lawsuits.

Several years ago, the local highway maintenance crew was mowing across the street from my house.  They hit the wire on the side of the utility pole where the feed to my house disappears underground. It sent 240 volts through a lot of my 120 house circuits, wiping out a whole bunch of electronic devices (TVs, VCR, phone, clock radio, microwave, etc)   My insurance company stated that they could not go after the township with a liability claim.  My insurance company did however, cover the claim and list me as not at fault.

If the highway resurfacing is performed by an outside contractor, they might be liable however.  Depends on how their contract was written.  The small print might obligate them to grind the road surface and not change clearances.
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skipn
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« Reply #8 on: January 26, 2009, 08:10:03 AM »


 State DOT's are sued all the time....usually under negligence (safety) etc.
 Contractors that are within contract guidelines are usually not liable, the state is.
 When the contractors are not within guidelines the state still holds the project management responsibility.
 Even a resurfacing goes through engineering review.
 Our state recently (last 5 years) rechecked heights on the interstates.
 
 Used to be all road work done had a 20 year life expectancy. Now some states have
 adopted a 10 to 15 year.

   Other states may have different criteria but any reported accident does end up at the fed level for
 system analysis. When levels reach a certain point then the feds require a safety project to be
 done to midigate the issue.

  FWIW
 Skip
 
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« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2009, 08:54:59 AM »

What blew me away when I first went into New York City were the clearance signs.  They are posted as though there are 12" of snow on the ground, so a 12'6" sign actually means 13'6" on dry pavement.  Course I don't have to worry about driving into New York city, I doubt I'll ever do it again in my bus or motorhome-park it and use a car!  Good Luck, TomC
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« Reply #10 on: January 26, 2009, 09:38:25 AM »

Yes, DOTs are sued all the time, but whether the cases hold water or not depends on specific criteria.  In many instances, Government entities fall under something called sovereign immunity and this limits their liability based on the the type of situation.

When possible, I like to back up the comments I make with credible references people can go to themselves on the net.

In this case, I'll reference    http://www.virginiadot.org/vtrc/main/online_reports/pdf/04-r30.pdf

If you jump to page 14 of this document it gets very specific regarding a distinction between governmental functions and proprietary functions.   It would seem to me the overpass clearance markings would fall under their definition of government functions, and as such the "municipality engaged in these actions may not be held liable for negligence".




It was interesting that Cody made reference to a specific railroad bridge.  That might raise a question as to whether the railroad or the highway administration (or both) could be held liable for mis-marked clearance heights. 

Here is a reference that addresses that one:

http://bulk.resource.org/courts.gov/c/F2/178/178.F2d.521.5977_1.html

Note that paragraphs 2, 12, and 17 make reference to the fact that the State Roads Commission, as an agency of the state is immune to suit.


Let me quickly point out that I am NOT a lawyer.  I am only sharing what I have read and how I interpret it.  I tried to cite examples as specific as I could.  But if I am wrong, it will be far from the first time, and I welcome anyone pointing me in the right direction. (Thats how I learn)

Edit::::::

WHOAAAAA! Stop the presses!!!    From further readings, it is looking very much like it may depend on whether the bridge is under the jurisdiction of Federal, State, or Local gov't, and which particular one.

At least in Virginia, it looks like the Tort Claims Act of 1982 changed some things. Prior to 1982 the state was immune, but the immunity scope was relaxed after '82.   The local municipalities still enjoy sovereign immunity however. The Maryland reference still sounds like they are immune to the lawsuits.  Who knows as far as the Feds go?  Need to look into this further....
« Last Edit: January 26, 2009, 10:22:02 AM by WEC4104 » Logged

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Charles Seaton
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« Reply #11 on: January 26, 2009, 01:36:34 PM »

Here in NYC, clearance signs on the elevated subway structures are posted and maintained by the City Department of Transportation NOT the Transit Authority.  Upon occasion, trucks and construction equipment gets stuck.
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WEC4104
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2009, 01:50:55 PM »

Okay, I'm getting a little deeper into this than I ever really intended... Roll Eyes

For those who might be interested, here is a quick synopsis:

The sovereign immunity concept that "You can't sue the government" actually has it's roots in the 11th Amendment.   For roughly 150 years it was applied broadly, preventing individuals from suing the federal, state and local government for damages, negligence, etc.    Technically, it says you can't sue them unless they give you permission to do so.

With regard to the Federal government, this was modified in 1946 to add some exceptions. The new legislation was called the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA).   One of the catalysts for this change was when a B-25 aircraft that flew into the Empire State Building (foggy weather) in '46.  Survivors and family members of those killed couldn't collect a dime until this bill was passed and made retroactive.

Even after the FTCA, the individual states continued to maintain soveregn immunity. Back when I was in school, I was still being taught that you can't sue the state.

Fast forward to more recent times, and this has been changing.  Since the 80's it appears many states have been passing their own Tort Claims Acts, or revising what they had.  There is a reason for this.  It seems that when individuals found they could not sue the government, they would single out a government employee who was responsible and go after them.  The TCA in most states changes this so that the employee is insulated, and there is a capped liability exposure for the state.  (There are exceptions to this, however).

Sovereign immunity does still exist to some extent at various levels of government, but it is pretty twisted.

Soooo,  if you were to smack the roof of your bus on some mis-marked overpass, there would be numerous factors that would come into play.  You might be able to sue for damages, but it could depend on whether the overpass was federal, state, or local property, etc.

Sorry for the long ramble,  just trying to be accurate.  
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« Reply #13 on: January 26, 2009, 02:25:28 PM »

WEC,

Thanks for the mini civics lesson.  It is always nice to know some reasons why things are the way they are.  I do wish there was more stringent responsibility placed on the individual.  It always seems the taxpayer gets screwed and the  person that caused the "tort" gets time off with pay.

David
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niles500
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« Reply #14 on: January 26, 2009, 09:34:57 PM »

WEC - From my personal experience on the Federal level - requesting "permission to sue" is generally done by sending them a 180 day Notice of Intent to file suit - and the government, exercising their normal due diligence, generally repies on the 179th day with an offer that is totally untenable - don't even ask about state, county and municipal governments - FWIW
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