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Too-tall box truck gets wedged under Duluth railroad overpass

Duluth police reported that officers were called to the North Shore Scenic Railroad overpass at 32nd Avenue East near London Road at about 11:45 a.m. on a report of a vehicle stuck under the bridge. (Photo courtesy Duluth Police Department)1 / 2
The northbound rental truck was 13 feet, 1 inch high, police said; signs on the bridge note that the clearance is 10 feet, 9 inches. (Photo courtesy Duluth Police Department)2 / 2

The driver of a rented box truck learned a tough lesson about paying attention to bridge clearance signs in Duluth on Saturday morning when the truck became wedged under a railroad overpass in the Congdon Park neighborhood.

Duluth police reported that officers were called to the North Shore Scenic Railroad overpass at 32nd Avenue East near London Road at about 11:45 a.m. on a report of a vehicle stuck under the bridge.

The northbound rental truck was 13 feet, 1 inch high, police said; signs on the bridge note that the clearance is 10 feet, 9 inches.

"The truck, which had much of the top of its cargo box peeled back, had to be removed by pulling it out with a heavy-duty tow truck," police said.

No one was injured. The railroad halted traffic across the bridge until an inspector could assess and clear the bridge.

Ken Buehler, the Depot's executive director, said the railroad bridge was OK and inspected in a timely manner by North Shore Track Services following the incident.

“Luckily, the bridge inspector could be found in town,” Buehler said, adding that there was a 3 p.m. wedding party scheduled for the afternoon train. “The pressure was on. The wedding party had bought out the entire train on the way to a ceremony in Knife River.”

The rule of railroading is that no trains go over a bridge following a crash without inspection, even though, Buehler said, “You would really have to hit it hard to do any damage.”

The low-clearance bridge is clearly marked from both directions and even on the bridge itself, Buehler said. Still, it was the second bridge crash in roughly three weeks, he said. In the previous instance, a roll-off garbage truck got jammed, then carried on through. The Zephyr train was past the bridge and on its way to Two Harbors at the time, and required DTA buses to retrieve the passengers and bring them back to Duluth.  

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