Michigan DOT reminds drivers to ‘know their load,’ keep it secured

Columbia Road Bridge Damaged
On Oct. 14 a commercial truck with a high load struck the underside of the Columbia Road bridge that crosses northbound U.S. 127 in Michigan’s Ingham County, causing significant damage. (Courtesy: Michigan Department of Transportation)

LANSING, Mich. — After a commercial truck carrying a high load hit and caused significant damage to a bridge that crosses U.S. 127, the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) reminded drivers that they are responsible for knowing and securing their loads.

On Wednesday morning, Oct. 14, the Columbia Road bridge over northbound U.S. 127 in Ingham County was struck by a high load. The bridge has been closed until the damage is fully assessed and repairs can be made. No injuries were reported in the incident.

“Checking your load height is Trucking 101,” said Helen Zeerip, owner of Teddy’s Transport and a member of Michigan’s State Transportation Commission, remarking on previous high-load bridge hits in the state. “I don’t know if people get distracted or if they’re too busy, but it’s obviously very, very dangerous. It’s dangerous for the driver, it’s dangerous for those around them and it’s destructive to — obviously — the bridges that they hit.”

The minimal legal height of any bridge in Michigan is 13 feet, 6 inches, according to MDOT, and any truck carrying loads higher than that must have a permit per state law. To obtain a permit, the vehicle owner or driver should contact MDOT’s permit unit at 517-241-8999; the unit will help the driver or company plan a route that avoids bridges or structures that are too low for the load to safely pass under.

In addition, according to the Michigan Vehicle Code, Act 300 of 1949, 257.719(1), “The owner of a vehicle that collides with a lawfully established bridge or viaduct is liable for all damage and injury resulting from a collision caused by the height of the vehicle, whether the clearance of the bridge or viaduct is posted or not.”

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