Chicopee, Mass., bans all tractor-trailers from driving under Willimansett Bridge

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Monday, March 05, 2018

Tired of removing trucks stuck underneath the Willimansett Bridge, the city council of Chicopee, Mass., unanimously decided to ban all trucks from driving under the bridge. Previously, signs only warned truckers of the height of the low-clearance bridge.

On Feb. 20, the Chicopee city council voted 13-0 to ban all tractor-trailers from driving underneath the Willimansett Bridge at Prospect Street and Chicopee Street (state Route 116). Currently, signs only note the bridge’s height of 11 feet, 9 inches, but that has not been enough.

In fact, the signs warning of the bridge’s height have changed at least once. The below images show a Google Maps image of the bridge taken on September 2016 and another on August 2017. In September 2016, signs indicated the bridge height at 12 feet, 6 inches. However, that did not account for a dip in road coming up on the bridge. The August 2017 image reveals that signs were changed to reflect a more practicable measurement at 11 feet, 9 inches.

Photos by Google Maps

The top image shows Willimansett Bridge signs on September 2016 indicating height of 12 feet, 6 inches. The bottom image was taken on August 2017 and reveals sign changes to 11 feet, 9 inches.


City officials say that a vehicle at 12 feet, 6 inches could initially pass through, but quickly get stuck as the road rises underneath the bridge. Because of this, the signs were changed to reflect the lowest height possible to clear the bridge. Regardless, some truckers still tried getting through or stopped and backed up immediately just before striking the bridge.

After changing the signs for the lowest height allowed, city officials had enough of trucks continuing to push their luck.

“Some of these guys just don’t get it,” Councilmember Bill Courchesne said during the meeting. “So maybe this sign that says ‘No Tractor Trailer’ will be simple enough for some of these guys to get it.”

Courchesne said that the road cannot be lowered since a river runs underneath. Conversely, there is no way to raise the bridge either. The only solution left is to ban all tractor-trailers from passing underneath.

Councilmember James Tillotson questioned the catch-all language that would prohibit all tractor-trailers from using the road, asking about trucks that could clear the bridge. However, another councilmember pointed out that a typical 53-foot tractor-trailer is 13 feet, 6 inches. Therefore, the catch-all language would apply regardless.

The “No Tractor Trailer” signs will be posted with the bridge height posts at:

  • Yelle Street
  • Top of Buckley Boulevard
  • Bottom of Buckley Boulevard
  • Chicopee Street by the Registry of Motor Vehicles
  • Chicopee Street by the Willimansett Bridge

No penalties will be issued since technically the signs are considered “directional.”

 

 

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