Help may be on the way for box truck drivers traveling under a bridge in Westwood that’s notorious for shearing the tops off of trucks, sending cargo into the air and spilling across the road.
On Monday, residents at a Westwood selectmen’s meeting were shown plans to replace the infamous East Street Bridge.
There have been 81 accidents reported at the bridge between 2009 and 2015, according to the Westwood police. Some have involved drivers hitting the bottom of the steel overpass, which sits 10 feet 6 inches from the ground; in others, cars have slammed into a protruding curb under the bridge and bounced into oncoming traffic.
In one of the more colorful incidents, a Maine truck carrying $100,000 worth of lobsters smashed into the bridge in 2014. Police dubbed it the “Lobsterpocalypse.”
The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, which owns and manages the bridge, first shared the proposed bridge changes with Westwood officials in February. The Franklin MBTA commuter rail line runs on top of the bridge.
Plans call for increasing the clearance under the bridge through a combination of lowering the roadway and raising the track, and making changes to the curb, according to the MBTA’s report.
The MBTA committed in 2014 to design and construction funding for the project, and a year later selected a design consultant. The project is now at the 15 percent design phase.
Construction is slated to begin in June next year, with the installation of a new bridge taking place in the spring or summer of 2018, according to MBTA officials.
“The MBTA is looking forward to working with the town to address the concerns raised by the community,” said MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo in an e-mail.
The project requires the support of both the neighborhood and the town, he said.
Smaller improvements have been made over the years at the bridge to help warn drivers. Department of Public Works employees placed a reflective yellow strip and a new warning sign to the overpass to alert truck drivers about its low height. The town has also spent $40,000 on signage approaching the bridge.
Cameras were installed near the overpass in 2013 because of the frequency of crashes. The police department, which has become accustomed to reports about trucks smashing into the bridge, posts videos of some incidents online. At least one of the videos has been viewed more than 500,000 times.