Interstate Freeway Overpass Height

Discussion in 'General Technical Questions and Answers' started by KB6OIN, Nov 20, 2009.

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  1. W5HTW

    W5HTW Ham Member QRZ Page

    A 13 foot six inch truck will not fit under a 13 foot six inch overpass!

    Most of the overpasses in the north part of our country, and particularly in New York and New England, are rated for a foot of snow on the ground. That means if it reads 14 feet, it really means 15 feet with a dry road. I learned that the hard way.

    The maximum height for a truck that is not escorted is 13'6". However taller trucks are escorted around such hazards. Have you seen the pick up trucks with the very tall measuring rod on the front bumper? They set that 'feeler' rod to a height that exceeds the maximum height of the escorted truck. If the feeler touches the overpass, the truck can't go through.

    I once took a 13 foot six inch trailer through an 11 foot eight inch overpass. It was either that, or back up in traffic, for a quarter of a mile. That is when I found overpasses in New York are marked for one or two feet of snow.

    A lady was kind enough to park in the other lane and guide me through. I had about two inches to spare, but she watched very carefully.

    Another time I suddenly came up on an underpass that was labelled 13 feet, even. I hit the brakes hard. Fortunately it was late at night and no traffic, so I was able to back up about 200 yards and get turned around. I went back to the truck stop and gave the guy hell who had told me to take that short cut. He put it into words -- Overpasses are marked for a minimum of one foot of ice and snow. I thanked him, and went back, and went under the bridge easily. And very slowly!

    I believe federal law prohibits any interstate from having an overpass under 14 feet. That has been in effect a long, long time. It may actually be 14'6".

    Back roads are a very different story! Some horror tales there, for another time.

    Again, 13'6" is the top limit for trucks, not the lower limit for overpasses. Trucks can be 13'6" without an escort. A truck 13'6" and an overpass 13'6" will NOT mix -- well, yeah, they will. Very noisily! And with significant damage.

    Some back roads I have traveled in a truck had girder bridges. Three of them come to mind immediately. One at Norfolk, VA, one at Cincinnati, Ohio, and one at Harrisburg, PA. I have traversed them all, in a 13-6 truck. But because the side girders drop to 12 feet, the truck can ride only in the middle of the road on these two lane bridges. That means, to cross them, the toll guard (all of these are toll) has to stop car traffic at both ends, to allow the truck to cross the Ohio River.

    Even then, my right side mirror was under six inches from the slanting girders on that side, and my left mirrow was about 4 inchs from the side. It was slow going. I told the darned toll taker they should pay ME to cross that &@#^#% bridge. I was not happy! But I made it.

    That has been the 'death' of a lot of trucks. "Bridge ahead, clearance 14 feet." Ah, but that is only the center clearance.

    I found a highway tunnel in Mass one time that had a 16 foot clearance. Whoa! It was arched! Round. Even in the center lane, the roof sloped down to about 13 feet. I had to back out.

    Been there, and done that. For the original poster, don't even try it. That four foot antenna will be ripped off the top of your vehicle and slammed into the windshield of the car behind you. Not funny.

    A final anecdote. Recently our radio club took the 'club' van (belongs to a member) to a special event. This van is a TV remote van with a 43 foot telescoping mast.

    When leaving, we removed the beam and lowered the mast, of course. Disassembled the beam. I then drove the van back to our member's house.

    Ah, but .. we did NOT fold over the rotator and five foot section of mast! So I turned into his yard, through the ranch gate, and the top of the mast hit the crossbar on the gate. Didn't hurt the rotator but it did fold that mast over. We replaced it immediately, but apparently his top bar on the gate is about 12 feet. Our mast was 14.

    Find another way to mount your antenna within the height restrictions of 13 feet 6 inches, and if you plan on getting on back roads, better cut another foot off that.

  2. WC5B

    WC5B Ham Member QRZ Page

    Man Ed..... Sounds like you have found ALL of them! HIHI (Low overpasses)

    And I guess we really got of the point. In relation to the question.... Its actually not legal to be TOO high. Check each states laws REGARDLESS, or you may meet the DOT that we truckers have to deal with on a daily basis. They are pretty grumpy about stuff like that.
  3. W0IS

    W0IS Ham Member QRZ Page

    Now that we've finished with that off-topic tangent, let me mention another one.

    Perhaps they use better trucks for their one-way fleet, but on the occasions I've driven a U-Haul truck, they always seem to be on their last legs. On one occasion, it broke down, and a very resourceful guy showed up with bailing wire and got it running again. He told me I had better not shut off the engine until I returned it, because it probably wouldn't start again. That advice caused it to overheat while I was unloading.

    I got the job done, and they didn't even charge me, so I'm not really complaining. But I would be somewhat reluctant to take one of their trucks out into the middle of nowhere. Again, maybe they use better trucks for their one way rentals, but whenever I've driven a U-Haul truck, I've always felt like it was about to fall apart.

    If I had to move a long distance, I'd probably buy my own truck and rent one of their trailers. If you don't need the truck, then sell it at your destination. I wouldn't think they could mess up a trailer too badly. :D And I suspect it would be a lot cheaper that way.

    On a positive note, I am glad that U-Haul paints their trucks orange. I assume that they do this so that other drivers can see them coming and get out of the way, since the driver has invariably never driven a truck before in his life. When I see one coming, I get out of the way, even if it means turning off onto a street where I didn't plan on going in the first place.
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2009
  4. WC5B

    WC5B Ham Member QRZ Page

    When I was in the Navy and transferring to Norfolk, I was almost killed in a U-Haul. My father was driving it, and I was following. He pulled over and said it was making a clanging sound. We decided to swap to see if I could figure out what the sound was. We were cutting through the hills of the PA Turnpike and closing in on Breezwood which was our exit. As I was coming down the hill (No noise BTW) I approached the exit and applied the breaks. They went straight to the floor! If anyone has taken that exit, they know its about 10 mile per hour sharp round about. I had that thing LITERALLY on two wheels. Thankfully my load was pretty low and I did not tip. I went right through the toll gate booth and made the left onto the US highway... coasting to a stop up hill. That was Labor Day and it took forever for them to send another truck to us. We fought them so hard about it they sent a crew to help shift the load over. Near death with poor customer service on a national AND local level = Never rented with them again. I always get a Penskee since then. They have lift gates anyways.
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