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State warns incoming students about Storrow, Memorial overpasses

A truck got stuck under a bridge on Storrow Drive in late August of 2013.
A truck got stuck under a bridge on Storrow Drive in late August of 2013. Mass.State Police/File

As college students from around the country pack their moving trucks for the trek to the Boston area, officials are reminding them about the height restrictions on local parkways.

The overpasses on Storrow Drive in Boston and Memorial Drive in Cambridge have long troubled drivers who underestimate the height on their vehicle, and get stuck under them.

The problem is even more common at the end of the summer, when thousands of students move into dorms and apartments, said Matthew Sisk, deputy commissioner of the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Students and their families often drive rented moving trucks and take unfamiliar roads, which can be a recipe for disaster, Sisk said.

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“Heading back to college is a big deal for students, and for freshmen it’s an especially big deal, so we want it to go as smoothly as possible and for everyone to remain safe on the roadway,” he said.

Sisk said his agency is working with area universities and State Police to spread information about height restrictions on the parkways. Many of the overpasses are low enough to cause problems for trucks that pass easily along most roads.

The state’s Department of Transportation has also assisted by placing message boards at onramps to the parkways.

In addition, the department has spoken to several GPS companies about factoring the height restrictions into their directions, and urged truck rental businesses to ensure that customers know the dimensions of the vehicles they’re driving.

“We’re not going to avoid every instance of this . . . but what we can do is educate people,” Sisk said.

“Everyone involved, both long-term residents and our shorter four- to six-year guests,” he said, needs “to be patient with each other. Please pay attention and be vigilant.”


Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.

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