KIRKLAND, Wash. — The city of Kirkland is compromising with the passionate community members that have implemented a modern solution to an old problem.
A historical landmark has created quite a problem due to its outdated size. A bridge that was originally built as a crossing for a railroad in the early 1900s still remains along Kirkland Avenue and has become known as the “world famous Truck Eating Bridge” due to its outdated low clearance of 11 feet 6 inches.
The standard clearance is currently at least 14 feet. The difference in inches has led to countless accidents.
It would require millions of dollars to replace the bridge and the landmark status means it’s staying put. Concerned citizens intervened a little over a year ago and started to paint and hang more visible signage.
“Oh there’s tons of signs but it's a psychology thing where you ignore street signs,” said Barbie Collins Young.
She’s one of several community organizers that decided to take matters into their own hands and hand-paint some colorful banners to better warn drivers about the low clearance.
Angela Beegle said she found an old banner and decided to recycle it for a cause. She painted several “Truck Eating Bridge” banners with bright colors and sharp teeth for eye-catching appeal.
“It was an experiment and it worked!” said Beegle.
More than half a dozen official signs were hung by the city warning about the bridge's low clearance, but community members thought some signs that were more out of the ordinary would better raise awareness.
Beegle said she added a “baby shark” sign over the summer when foliage was disguising the banners. The bridge hasn’t had a truck strike going eastbound in four months and the westbound signs have kept the bridge accident free for 10 months.
The guerrilla marketing led to a popular Facebook group and you’ll even find “Truckbane” on Google Maps.
The banner brigade was preparing to remove the banners this weekend as they received word that the city council was updating the city’s banner policy.
“We let the community members on Facebook know that the banners need to be removed and people were upset, it’s really been fun for the community to see these signs working,” said Collins Young.
The latest additions are a series of Dr Seuss style signs. “One Truck, Two Truck, Too Tall? You’re stuck!”
As the organizers prepared to pull the plug this weekend, the city of Kirkland has decided to make an exception for the overpass bridge.
In an official release the city said, “The City Council is considering updates to the City’s banner policy at its January 17, 2023, meeting. If the new policy is adopted, this banner would likely not be in compliance with it. However, the City appreciates our community member’s creativity and commitment to public safety that is embodied by the banner.”
The City of Kirkland said the banners will be allowed to remain displayed on the bridge and the city will be in touch with the creators.
“I like exceptions!” laughed Beegle.
The surprising twist came on a gloomy Friday the 13th, but it’s all sunshine news for the community organizers who said they are just excited to see their creative ideas working and saving more trucks from crashing.