Can Long Grove find a way to keep drivers from hitting bridge cover?

  • Another truck became wedged under the cover of Long Grove's iconic bridge on Thursday.

    Another truck became wedged under the cover of Long Grove's iconic bridge on Thursday. Neil Holdway | Staff Photographer

 
Updated 7/30/2021 9:54 PM

Long Grove's historic covered bridge on Robert Parker Coffin Road enjoys iconic status within the village.

It's a place for couples taking their wedding photos and others who feel a sentimental connection.

 

But it has one distinct disadvantage: It seems to be a magnet for truck drivers who try to drive across even though their vehicles are too tall for the 8-foot, 6-inch clearance.

On Thursday afternoon, yet another truck became stuck under the bridge cover. It was the 17th such incident since the new bridge was opened last August.

The good news, Village Manager Greg Jackson said, is "there is no compromise to the structural integrity of the bridge."

What's being hit is the cover of the bridge, he said. The actual span is protected by steel beams.

"What ended up happening is all cosmetic," Jackson said, although he added, "We don't want the cover damaged. We don't find that acceptable by any stretch."

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Still, the cosmetic damage "hasn't cost the village a dime, because the insurance companies have picked it up from the vehicles that have struck it," he said.

The bad news is it keeps happening.

"It is frustrating, ... We have made so many attempts to make the signs more visible, and it just keeps happening." said Trustee Jennifer Michaud. "I live very close to the downtown, and I always know when the bridge is hit, because I see the helicopters come in. And I'm just, 'Oh, another one.'"

Much of the problem, she said, lies with Google.

"People look at their phones and their phone tells them to go this way, and Google doesn't know that they are driving a truck," she said.

Jackson said the village is looking at ways to solve its current problem.

One option is an overhead detection system that would sense when a truck of a certain height approached the bridge and send a warning signal to the driver. Such a system would have recurring costs, including maintenance.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Another option could be to prohibit truck traffic.

"But the problem we have with that is we still have deliveries that have to be made in town," he said.

That bridge's clearance is already clearly marked with signage -- not that the naked eye shouldn't provide its own warning.

"I'm looking and saying, 'How on earth did you think you were getting through there?'" Jackson said.

Michaud said there has also been discussion of reinstalling the bars that were there before the original covered bridge was removed.

But, Michaud said, "people are looking at their phones. They are not looking at the signs, and I don't think that's fixable at this point."

"Maybe flashing lights will help. I'm sure even with flashing lights, we are still going to get hits. I feel badly for these people driving the trucks. But we are giving them every opportunity."

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