Crossing certain bridges can be a harrowing experience for tractor-trailer drivers. Narrow lanes and old, rickety structures make some bridges that much more nerve-wracking during violent weather. These are just a few of the scariest in the country.
Tacoma Narrows Bridge
The Tacoma Narrows Bridge is a pair of twin suspension bridges that spans a portion of Puget Sound in Pierce County, Washington. The bridges, part of state route 16, connect the city of Tacoma with the Kitsap Peninsula.
The original Tacoma Narrows Bridge, nicknamed “Galloping Gertie,” opened in July 1940. During extremely windy conditions, the bridge collapsed into Puget Sound on Nov. 7, 1940, due to aeroelastic flutter. Thankfully, nobody died. Engineering issues, as well as the United States’ involvement in World War II, postponed plans to replace the bridge. It eventually reopened in October 1950.
Windy days still make this bridge uncomfortable for some drivers. One comment on the FreightWaves Facebook page said, “[I] would rather cross the Astoria bridge any day than the Tacoma Narrows. Ain’t fun having the trailer in one lane and the tractor in the other because of the wind. It’s a long way down to the water.”
High Five Interchange
The High Five Interchange is one of the first five-level stack interchanges built in Dallas. Located at the junction of Interstate 635 and U.S. Highway 75, it replaced an antiquated partial cloverleaf interchange constructed in the 1960s. The new interchange was completed in December 2005.
High Five Interchange in Dallas. (Photo: Flickr/Danazar)
The 12-story height of the High Five Interchange can be a bit dizzying, not to mention its 43 permanent bridges and other unusual design features. In 2018, a tanker rolled over on one of the bridges. For the first time in 10 years, the entire interchange had to be shut down.
In response to our first article about America’s scariest bridges for truckers, Randy Lee, a driver with J.B. Hunt Transport Services (NASDAQ: JBHT), told FreightWaves: “[I’ve] been across these and others all over the country. But I dislike the high five in Dallas, Texas, especially in winter.”
Calcasieu River Bridge
The Calcasieu River Bridge — officially named the Louisiana Memorial World War II Bridge in June 1951 — is a through truss located on Interstate 10 in Louisiana. It runs between the cities of Lake Charles and Westlake, and has a vertical clearance of 135 feet. It was originally built as the U.S. Highway 90 bridge and later was grandfathered into Interstate 10.
The Calcasieu River Bridge is known for traffic jams, with an estimated 55,000 vehicles crossing it each day. Reasons for the congestion include narrow lanes; a bottleneck where three lanes narrow to two; reduced speed limits; and sharp curves on the east side of the bridge in Lake Charles.
Calcasieu Bridge in Louisiana. (Photo: Flickr/Patrick Feller)
C.J. Barrette, formerly with Onfreight Logistics and Chase Transport, said, “The Lake Charles Bridge is a rickety one, but my biggest problem on the bridge has been people doing 35 in the hammer [passing] lane.”
The U.S. Department of Transportation has rated the bridge as structurally deficient, but the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development said it was safe. However, state officials are planning to replace the bridge.
Francis Scott Key Bridge
The Francis Scott Key Bridge, originally called the Outer Harbor Crossing, is a steel, arch-shaped continuous through truss bridge spanning the lower Patapsco River and outer Baltimore Harbor-Port in Baltimore. The main span of 1,200 feet is the third-longest span of any continuous truss in the world. Also known as the Key Bridge or Beltway Bridge, it’s the longest bridge in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
The bridge was opened in March 1977 and is named for the author of the U.S. national anthem. An estimated 11.5 million vehicles use the bridge each year. It’s a designated hazardous materials (HAZMATs) truck route, as HAZMATs are prohibited in the Baltimore Harbor and Fort McHenry tunnels.
Francis Scott Key Bridge near Baltimore. (Photo: Flickr/Jeff Covey)
People in the transportation business have described the bridge simply as “high and tight.” Strong winds have flipped tractor-trailers on the Key Bridge over the years, sometimes closing all lanes in one direction.