Railroad underpass confounds truck drivers

By TIM SINIARD
Posted 10/21/19

Despite the presence of warning signs affixed to Cleveland's Inman Street bridge/underpass, the structure continues to confound truck drivers who fail to heed the warnings as they attempt to pass …

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Railroad underpass confounds truck drivers

Posted

Despite the presence of warning signs affixed to Cleveland's Inman Street bridge/underpass, the structure continues to confound truck drivers who fail to heed the warnings as they attempt to pass underneath the aging bridge.

On Monday morning, a truck hauling a backhoe slammed into the bridge, temporarily closing Inman Street and delaying drivers during morning rush hour.

The accident took place at approximately 7:30 a.m.

It is about the 15th time such an accident has occurred, according to Five Points Cafe owner Jeanine Chastain, whose restaurant is located adjacent to the 10 foot, 10 inch concrete underpass, which bears multiple scars from previous incidents.

"I've seen it happen so many times," she told the Cleveland Daily Banner. "It's dangerous."

Chastain, who was busy working inside her restaurant Monday morning, said she was startled by the crash.

"It jarred my cafe," she said.

She said something needs to be done about the accidents.

"There are peoples' lives at stake," Chastain said. "What's it going to take for something to get done?"

The underpass is owned by Norfolk Southern.

During a recent inquiry by the Banner regarding the structural condition of the  concrete ballast deck structure, Norfolk Southern officials said the bridge's last annual inspection took place on Dec. 6, 2018.

No "major issues with the bridge" were found.

The bridge was constructed in 1973. 

Norfolk Southern in a July 23 email told the Banner there are no plans to replace the structure.

"Norfolk Southern is in full compliance with the Federal Railroad Administration's bridge safety standards, often times exceeding requirements," the email stated. "Norfolk Southern inspects all railroad bridges annually. If a truck strikes a bridge, NS also conducts an immediate bridge inspection following the incident."

The presence of damaged concrete was also addressed.

"Recent bridge strikes to Inman Street Bridge have chipped concrete from the lower outer edge of the exterior span; however, the minimal impact has not affected the structural integrity of the bridge," the email stated. "Based on the current condition of the bridge, Norfolk Southern has determined that the bridge is safe for existing operations and does not plan to replace the bridge at this time." 

Next month, the Banner will be publishing a series of articles examining local infrastructure. As a result, further coverage of issues related to the condition of the Inman Street Bridge/Underpass will be included in the series.

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