SAN ANTONIO — The City of San Antonio is growing and so are the sizes of trucks that travel the San Antonio roads. That created a problem that the City had to fix on St. Mary's Street by Brackenridge High School.
For years large trucks would crash into the bottom of a bridge on St. Mary's St. by Mission Rd. that's only 11'3" high, even with warning signs all around. So the city had to take drastic measures to change that.
"The bridge was built in the 1930s back before there were 18 wheelers or even minivans. It wasn't built for the type of traffic that travels on St. Mary's right now," said Transportation and Capital Improvements spokesperson Paul Berry.
Back then there were no standards for how high a bridge clearance should be. Today the standard average minimum height is 16 feet, with the average 18 wheeler being 13.5 feet high, which is not nearly low enough to clear the bridge. The crashes kept happening and the City kept taking action. Barry told us, "We put up signs. We put up more signs, and we put up signs with flashing lights. We put up anything we could to get somebody's attention to not keep driving."
Since close to half a dozen warning signs that were supposed to alert truck drivers of the approaching low bridge didn't work, the City had to be creative and install height clearance curtains on either side of the bridge in March of this year.
"TCI engineers designed this system a mast with plastic cylinders hanging down," said Barry. He also told us, "They are right at 11'3" which is the height of the bridge. I rented a truck just to see how it would work and when I hit those curtains I heard it loudly in the cab even though the curtains were hitting the cargo portion of the van."
This innovative curtain warning system isn't just the only one in San Antonio, it's not just the only one in Bexar County, but the only one in the entire state of Texas!" Barry added, "Since they've been put up we have had no reported crashes into the overpass."
The City and Union Pacific Railroad split the $24,000 cost of designing, creating, and installing the height clearance curtains.