The 'Carters Creek Can Opener' bridge continues to destroy trucks in Columbia

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Posted at 6:28 PM, Jul 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-14 22:17:53-04

COLUMBIA, Tenn. (WTVF) — Lots of bridges are named for those we've lost, but a railroad bridge in Columbia got its name for the ones it's claimed.

"It rips the material and looks just like an old-style can opener," said Steve Williams, a Columbia resident.

Neighbors have jokingly dubbed the railroad bridge, "The Carters Creek Can Opener" -- because for even normal-sized vehicles, it can be a close call. For anything over 10 feet, 10 inches, game over. "Like a sardine can. Yes, it just peels the top right back," said one neighbor.

16 trucks have been scalped in 2021 so far. It's gotten so bad, an entire Facebook page is now devoted to showing the mangled messes along with a few memes. "Life is too short and the bridge is too short," joked one of the members of the bridge's social media team.

The duo behind the page has asked for anonymity, partially because they think it adds to the fun. "It's a serious problem but you can have a little fun with it as you're pointing it out too," said one of the page managers.

But not everyone is laughing. Billy Hiett says his GPS routed him along Carters Creek Pike and now he's out of a job. "I’m the latest guy to hit the bridge," said Hiett over the phone with NewsChannel 5. "I come around the corner and before I knew it, I was up on the bridge and didn’t have time to stop and it destroyed the truck."

Fixing the problem is where things get tricky. Raising the railroad bridge or lowering the road just isn't an option.

So TDOT's solution is to install a new laser-activated warning system that would sense that a truck is too tall and set off a series of flashing lights. A spokesperson for TDOT says installation of the system will go into place over the next few weeks.

But neighbors aren't exactly convinced more warnings will do the trick. "There’s actually seven signs between here and highway 31," said Williams.

Until something changes, expect the carnage and content to keep trucking along. "If we can add a little levity in there for them, that makes my day," said one of the page managers.