“I would call this an unlucky coincidence.”
That’s how a state transportation official describes the latest collision involving a tractor-trailer and the Route 30 Hill Street bridge in Mountville.
“If this had happened under any other circumstance it might not have gotten any attention at all,” Pennsylvania Department of Transportation spokesman Dave Thompson said.
The bridge, located about a mile east of Prospect Road, was struck Wednesday by a shed being hauled by a tractor-trailer. One lane of Route 30 was shut down and traffic was backed up for a few hours.
In June, the bridge was struck by a lift being hauled by another tractor-trailer. Three vehicles were damaged by falling concrete, and Route 30 was reduced to one lane for several hours. Both sides of Route 30 between the Mountville and Prospect Road exits were closed for two days in September for repairs
No one was hurt in either incident, and both drivers were cited with a failing to secure a load summary offense.
Built in 1965, the Hill Street bridge’s lowest clearance is listed at 14 feet, which is 2½ feet lower than what a similar overpass would be built today, according to Thompson.
Using an electronic measuring device, LNP measured the clearance from the shoulder of Route 30 west and the bottom of the bridge at 15 feet six inches.
Thompson said the posted clearance of 14 feet is the lowest point in the travel lane, noting there can be variations based on road geometry.
“Our bridge crew measured the clearance following the (Wednesday) incident, and the posted height is accurate,” he said.
Matt Rhoads, president of Lancaster-based Central Penn Transportation, said truckers are aware that listed clearance heights don;t always match real-world conditions.
“A bridge can be marked something when it’s built, and then they’ll pave the road,” he said.
He said while highways are typically safe, problems can crop up when drivers unfamiliar with an area find themselves on smaller, secondary roads.
“A lot of out-of-town folks will use GPS, and not all GPS routes are truck-friendly,” he said.
In December 2017, a tractor-trailer became wedged in a covered bridge in Rapho Township.
The listed clearance is 10 feet, 6 inches. No vehicle may exceed 13 feet, 6 inches in height, according to the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code.
The driver was given several traffic citations, including restrictions on the use of highways and bridges.
For drivers with oversized loads, PennDOT’s permit system is typically enough to street them away from tight spots. Permits include alerts about roads with height restrictions.
Truck drivers hauling loads that result in a height of more than 14 feet 6 inches must hire a company to determine an acceptable route, Thompson said.