Why Do Trucks Keep Getting Stuck In The Bankhead?

truck bankhead tunnel

Alabama Department of Transportation crews were on the scene until late last night trying to get this truck out of the Bankhead tunnel. It’s something Transportation Center Manager David Johnson sees all the time.

“It’s weird to me that they get stuck at all,” says Johnson.

It’s a familiar sight. The tops of semi-trucks rolled back like sardine cans. Johnson says there are plenty of precautions to prevent it.

“The sign that you see back here actually will change to “Stop Do Not Enter”, the red lights will start flashing, the chains that we have sitting there with the yellow reflectors on them are supposed to hit the cab of the vehicle, and then of course you have the other signs that say only 12 foot height clearance,” says Johnson.

Not to mention, they’ve got a height sensor that sounds a rather loud alarm to alert the driver. It’s so loud, neighboring hotels and businesses have complained about the noise. And big rigs aren’t the only things that get stuck.

“You can have someone in a regular pickup truck that maybe has put a refrigerator standing up in the back of their truck. We’ve had RV’s that aren’t 12 feet high, but they air conditioners on the top of their vehicles and it knocks the air conditioner off,” says Johnson.

So why does it keep happening?

“That is a good question! The driver last night said that he’d only been driving for two months. I mean, I don’t know if it was a lack of experience on his part,” says Johnson.

And sometimes, he says these drivers just get tunnel vision.

Now this does damage to the trucks, but it doesn’t do as much damage to the tunnel—that’s because of a steel and concrete beam across the front of it. I asked David Johnson how often this happens, he says so far this year there have been at least 10 times someone has gotten stuck here. The driver is usually ticketed or fined.

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