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Trucks hit same Durham bridge hours apart

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Two trucks hit a low clearance bridge within about four hours of each other in downtown Durham on Monday. (WTVD)

Two trucks collided with a railroad bridge in Durham on Monday, highlighting the need for additional safety measures at the intersection of South Gregson between West Peabody and Pettigrew Streets.

The metal roof of an Enterprise Rental truck peeled back after hitting the head bar that protects the bridge. The driver suffered a minor head injury.

Four hours later, another rental truck made the same mistake. Two people inside that vehicle were treated at the scene.

"We've seen two in a week maybe," said Jurgen Henn. "But two on the same day--that's a first!"

Henn has a bird's eye view from his office. He set up cameras in April 2008 and routinely posts video of stuck trucks on his website.

He's seen 92 collisions at the bridge including the two incidents on Monday.

"There were a few times we came down here really worried about the truck driver," he added, explaining that there have been some near-misses for pedestrians.

"We've seen some pretty close calls of pedestrians getting hit by flying shrapnel so that's pretty dangerous as well," said Henn.

The NC Department of Transportation agrees. In addition to the head bar and flashing lights already in place, the DOT plans to make this a lighted intersection. Drivers in all directions will stop when there's an over-height vehicle.

"It will go to red when an over-height vehicle is detected and force them off the side street," explained John Sandor, a DOT Engineer. "Signs will illuminate that an overheight vehicle was detected and they must exit the road."

Sandor said safety changes are also coming to the railroad bridge at Pettigrew and Roxboro in Durham, but more funding is still needed.

Until then, the truck collisions will remain both a mystery and a bit of a joke at a local gift shop where they sell t-shirts commemorating the frequent crashes.

"I've been working here nine years and I've heard quite a few crashes," said a shop employee.

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