No matter how easy you might think it is, driving a big rig is full of challenges that normal people don’t have to consider. Merging into traffic when you’re over 70 feet long ain’t easy, and neither is coming to a sudden stop when you’re traveling at interstate speeds. Semi-truck drivers should, however, have fewer problems when it comes to crossing bridges, though there’s always one that scoffs at overhead clearance or, in this case, weight capacity. Always check the weight capacity.
The Pentecostal Bridge in Westphalia, Missouri fell to pieces when a tractor-trailer hauling feed drove over it, far exceeding the listed limit of five tons. Missouri Highway Patrol claimed the load itself weighed around 20 tons, not including the truck or the trailer. It’s likely that the overall weight was between 70,000 and 80,000 pounds-AKA too dang much.
Larry Kliethermes, Second District Commissioner in Osage County, says he spoke with the driver who claimed he was simply trying to back his truck up. That’s believable as County Road 611, where the bridge was located, is extremely narrow and no place to navigate with a Freightliner.
Luckily, no one was injured but the truck and bridge are undoubtedly total losses. Local crews say they’ve been removing debris and plan to pull the truck from the Maries River on Tuesday.
Kliethermes told the media that the bridge was in good shape and had just passed an inspection last week.
Osage County Sheriff Michael Bonham was first to announce the news and later explained that the Missouri Highway Patrol is conducting an investigation.
While I’ve never driven a semi, I do dabble in the world of larger-than-average trucks. One thing I know for certain is that a load not only changes the driving dynamics of your rig, but it also changes how the surface beneath you reacts. It’s easy to sink on soft surfaces and, as this guy proved, light-rated bridges are just as quick to fall out from underneath you.
Use your head, folks, and don’t trust the GPS with your life.
Caleb Jacobs is Deputy News Editor at The Drive. He buys weird things, like a ’66 Ford dump truck, a ’65 Chevy school bus and now, a ’63 International Loadstar. We continue to employ him, though we can’t seem to understand why. Send him a note: firstname.lastname@example.org