If you’ve ever driven through Durham, North Carolina, then you’re probably familiar with the Norfolk Southern–Gregson Street Overpass. Also nicknamed the Can Opener bridge and the Gregson Street Guillotine, this railroad bridge is most famously known as the 11 foot 8 Bridge. The ridiculously low overpass has been the site of a slew of crashes for more than a decade, particularly involving tall trucks, buses, and RVs.
Back in 2008, Jürgen Henn, whose office building overlooks the low bridge, decided to take advantage of its notoriety by mounting a video camera to record the crashes and uploading the videos to his YouTube channel. These crashes have been religiously documented on the website 11foot8.com, and a good deal of the resulting videos have reached viral status, appearing everywhere from the front page of The Wall Street Journal to the Comedy Central show Tosh.0.
To officially ring in 2019, Henn released the first 11 foot 8 Bridge crash video of the year, and, damn, is it a doozy.
As you can see at about the 54-second mark in the above footage, a truck driver ignores the “Overheight, Must Turn” warning sign and gets stuck. It actually turns out that getting unstuck doesn’t prove to be that much of a problem for the driver. Well, that is, unless you count the whole backing into the car behind him part.
You’d think that the trucker would’ve just stopped backing up after tapping the car the first time around, but then again, judging from the fact that he had about 50 seconds to notice the low clearance warning (as Henn points out in the video description), he clearly isn’t the most observant type.
All things considered, not all that much damage seemed to be done. Mostly just a little bit of damaged pride in the form of an embarrassing fail video viewed by tens of thousands of people.
Raising the 11 Foot 8 Bridge
Anyone who has fallen victim to the notorious bridge at the intersection of South Gregson Street and West Peabody Street will be happy to know that the North Carolina Railroad Company has raised it by eight inches.
According to Durham DOT spokesperson Bill Judge back in November 2019, the height of 12 feet and four inches is the highest that the bridge can be raised without necessitating construction involving another crossing. Prior to the bridge’s raising, many a box truck and tall vehicle got decapitated by the 11 Foot 8 bridge, despite the “Overheight, Must Turn” signage.
In the era of the 12 Foot 4 bridge, hopefully the sort of carnage that went down in previous years will be coming to an end.
This post was originally published on November 11, 2019.