Crews repair Olive Road overpass after latest wreck

Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013 5:58 PM
Last updated Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013 1:39 AM
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Damage caused by automobile accidents is not unusual for Augusta’s Olive Road railroad overpass.

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Crews with CSX railroad spent most the day Wednesday at the overpass on Olive Road making repairs to an employee walkway along the track after a wreck there earlier this month.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
Crews with CSX railroad spent most the day Wednesday at the overpass on Olive Road making repairs to an employee walkway along the track after a wreck there earlier this month.

Thirty-five wrecks have occurred in the low-clearance zone of 10 feet, 6 inches since 2000. The latest, which happened earlier this month, brought out CSX railroad crews, who spent most of Wednesday repairing damage to an employee walkway along the track.

“We would appreciate if folks would pay attention to the signage,” said Carla Groleau, the CSX communications director.

Traffic Engineer Dennis Ellis said incidents have decreased since precautions were added after a fatal 2006 crash, but it’s rare for a year to pass without the roof of a passing truck clipping supports of the railroad that crosses Olive Road.

In February 2006, Isaiah Dominique Lewis, 24, died when a U-Haul truck coming the opposite direction hit the overpass, causing a support beam to fall onto Lewis’ vehicle.

Engineers have since installed larger signs, rumble strips and warning lights.

The motorist who hit the overpass this month told deputies he stopped the Budget Truck Rental truck at the stop sign and saw the sign stating no trucks were allowed, but he continued and hit the bridge support.

The same thing happened last year when a driver told police he disregarded the signs and signals and hit the overpass after “misjudging the clearance.”

Engineers have experimented with warning strategies over the years, but all “devices” were removed after creating more problems.

At one point, chains were suspended from a steel wire to hit the top of vehicles too large. The chains were removed because the vehicles frequently broke the wire, making it unsafe and unfeasible to maintain.

Vehicle owners were also demanding the city repair dents and scratches to their vehicles, Ellis said.

At one point, an electric eye was put nearby to set off warning bells similar to those in a railroad crossing. The alarms, however, were frequently set off by birds, children throwing things and tall vehicles. Nearby residents complained of the noise until they were removed.

“There’s nothing left to try,” Ellis said.

A study provided by Augusta Traffic Engineering estimates 4,500 to 5,000 vehicles pass under the overpass daily.

changes to the road are not possible. A high water table prevents engineers from lowering the road, and raising the overpass would cause problems for CSX.

Ellis said most of the drivers who hit the overpass are local and should know not to risk it. Twenty-nine of the 35 drivers who have hit the overpass since 2000 are from the Augusta area, according to Traffic Engineering.


Number of wrecks at the Olive Road overpass since 2000:

2013 1

2012 1

2011 0

2010 0

2009 2

2008 0

2007 2

2006 2

2005 2

2004 3

2003 8

2002 8

2001 2

2000 4

Source: Augusta Traffic Engineering

Comments (7) Add comment
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dpatt.marine1 02/13/13 - 11:43 pm
Street level

More people are going to lose their lives if this bridge remains.

nnaugusta 02/14/13 - 12:47 am
Ummmm, More people will die

Ummmm, More people will die unless they learn to read and obey traffic signs!

nocnoc 02/14/13 - 08:32 am
Isn't time just to seal off the underpass?

I remember seeing one of my 1st accidents at that location when I was 7. That was about 1961 and it was on the the SEARS warehouse side of the underpass.

HEY! come to think of it.
This is a perfect place to spend all that TSPLOST tax money.
Build a Over-over pass, that is overpriced, runs over budget, and is loaded with kick backs, and enough political paybacks to even the political books for 10 years.

curly123053 02/14/13 - 08:32 am
No Excuse For This!

People need to pay attention and obey the signage period. People who decided to risk it eve after reading the signs should be given jail time for their stupidity, and have to take reading comprehension classes before getting their license back.

deestafford 02/14/13 - 12:10 pm
This is so simple to prevent and here's how

Suspend a cable which is inside a 4'' piece of galvanized pipe across the road on both sides of the bridge at the maximum allowable height of the underpass. It would be about 50 feet prior to the underpass. When a vehicle that is too tall hits the pipe it will make a loud noise telling the driver he has hit the pipe indicating he cannot go under the trussel.

Darby 02/14/13 - 06:26 pm
"This is a perfect place to spend...

all that TSPLOST tax money."

Careful, those dummies up there in the Marble Palace might just take you seriously.

Darby 02/14/13 - 06:33 pm
I was wondering, nocnoc, why the writer started her tally....

in 2000. I moved here in 1976 and one of the very first things I saw in the old Augusta Herald (May she rest in peace) was concerning a truck whose driver played Don Quixote with that overpass. He lost....

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