Friday, November 20, 2015

Low Overhead

The huge I-beams and hanging channel iron made it clear we weren't
going through here with the canoe intact.

We were on our way to a family reunion at Nockamixon State Park, near Quakertown, PA.  It was a convoluted route, so I had sought the assistance of Google Maps routing, and so the memories flooded in.

I drove tractor-trailers cross-country for several years to meet certain financial objectives.  It was in the early days of commercial GPS, and the first routing programs were of course for automobiles.  Regardless, trucking companies immediately latched hold of the technology, and so for many years drivers of eighteen-wheelers found themselves unwittingly following routes designed for compact cars.  If this led to a problem, both the solution and the consequences of any resulting wrecks fell on the drivers’ shoulders.  The driver is always responsible for everything.  The further one got to the North and East, where many remnants of the Revolutionary and Colonial periods of our history still remain, the more common the problems became.  Where roads were designed for horses and carts, or at most a team of horses and wagon, the driver of a 65 or 70-foot long vehicle would occasionally find himself facing a dog-leg in the middle of a railroad underpass where the kink in the roadway was too tight for anything much larger than the normal family car.  Or, a railroad grade would be so high above the roadway that a truck couldn’t cross it without getting hung-up on the tracks.  Or, the time my route brought me to an underpass that was literally so low a horse would have to duck its head to pass under.

So, on the way to Nockamixon, this is what Google brought me to.  While routing programs have improved greatly, problems can still pop up in front of the driver.  We had Ibi on the canoe rack, so even our pickup and canoe couldn’t get through here.  The objective of the height restriction is obvious---the 5-ton weight restriction posted to the left of the bridge.   One way to positively limit weight is to limit the size of vehicle that can pass through.  We found our way around the obstruction okay, but we couldn’t help but think about the fix we would have found ourselves in if we had been towing the RV with us.

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