Will Warning Curtains Finally Stop the Crashes at the Independence Avenue Bridge?

Will Warning Curtains Finally Stop the Crashes at the Independence Avenue Bridge?As many Kansas City, MO residents are likely aware, there is a specific bridge that seems to eat trucks. The bridge has developed a certain recognition, or stigma, for its continuous ability to injure truck drivers while also demolishing their tractor-trailers. That’s right; we’re talking about the famous Independence Avenue Bridge.

However, the truth is that this bridge has become a major problem and concern in our city, injuring many drivers in truck accidents over the years. So, in December of 2023, construction started to install “warning curtains.”

Warning curtains, also known as height or roadway clearance curtains, are a relatively cost-efficient way to give drivers a heads up about the bridge. Per the Kansas City Star, “the curtains will consist of tubes hanging over the road at a height that would indicate whether vehicles can safely pass under the bridge. The curtains are designed to make a loud noise alerting drivers of trucks and other tall vehicles that they will not clear the bridge. The warning would give drivers enough time to detour around the bridge.”

This project has been in the works for some time. The City started studying the issue surrounding the bridge in 2018, and finally reached a deal with the Kansas City Terminal Railway in 2022 to install the curtains.

Kansas City Terminal Railway told Fox 4 that “the city has data that the devices are effective in reducing bridge collisions,” and overall, we’re optimistic. Alternative solutions, like raising the height of the bridge or lowering the road underneath it, were deemed too expensive or too dangerous, respectively. This option seems to be the best one for now. Plus, if the curtains turn out to be less effective than expected, removing them should not be a tremendous strain on resources or finances.

How dangerous is the Independence Avenue Bridge in Kansas City, MO?

According to KSHB, “Since 2020, the Kansas City, Missouri, Police Department has taken at least 40 reports for trucks crashing into the 12-foot clearance bridge between Wilson and White Avenues.” However, this is an issue that has been ongoing for several decades.

The Independence Avenue Bridge was constructed in the early 1900s. It stands at around 12 feet and is known for crushing large trucks that try to enter it. The reason that this continues to happen is because most tractor-trailers are at least 13.5 feet, meaning that they cannot fit under the bridge. Unfortunately, by the time most truck drivers figure this out, it is too late.

This type of accident is called a bridge strike, and the most recent available estimates by the Federal Highway Association show an average of 15,000 of them per year across the United States. And while the Independence Avenue Bridge appears to be safe, that safety comes at a price. About a decade ago, Kansas City Terminal Railway spent around $100,000 on concrete repairs and steel reinforcements for the front the bridge. Given that dozens of trucks have struck the bridge since then, we do wonder whether more repairs are needed.

Are there other dangerous bridges across the state?

A few years ago, Missouri was rated as one of the top states for the most dangerous bridges in the United States. Even though the other bridges are not known for severely injuring truck drivers, they are instead known for being “structurally deficient.” As a matter of fact, there were over 3,000 bridges that had severe structural issues at the time of the rating. It has since been about six years since that rating, but according to the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), Missouri is still in the top 15 for structurally deficient bridges. In 2023, there were over 2,200 structurally deficient bridges across the state, which means that “one of the key elements is in poor or worse condition.” Overall, the ARTBA’s website suggests that there are more than 4,500 bridges in the entire state of Missouri that need some type of repair work to make them safe for drivers, which could cost the state a lot of money.

If you have recently been involved in a bridge collision, Kansas City Accident Injury Attorneys is ready and available to legally assist you. Our team has several decades of experience helping drivers who have been injured in bridge collisions. We have also built a solid reputation around the community and were recently voted as Kansas City’s Favorite Law Firm. Therefore, if you need an attorney who will stay by your side, keeping you updated and informed about your case every step of the way, call or contact us today. We welcome you to visit our main location in Kansas City, MO anytime, or you can easily schedule an appointment at one of our other locations in Lee’s Summit, Parkville and St. Joseph (MO); Olathe, Kansas City, and Overland Park (KS).