Lawrence trash truck ‘munched’ by bridge was a total loss; replacement is $441K

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The legendary truck-munching Independence Avenue bridge took a large bite out of a Lawrence trash truck, and it’s costing the city a pretty penny to replace it.

The trash truck was being moved from one repair shop to another when the crash occurred, Porter Arneill, a spokesperson for the City of Lawrence, said via email in May.

“This is not a regular repair situation and the driver was not familiar with the area,” Arneill said at the time. He noted that the bridge is well known to be problematic for trucks. “There’s even a dedicated Facebook page: The Bridge on Independence Avenue.”

Thankfully, the driver was not injured. The truck, however, was a total loss.

As part of its consent agenda on Tuesday, the Lawrence City Commission approved a request from Municipal Services & Operations to purchase a replacement truck for $440,851.

A Lawrence trash truck was unable to duck under the Independence Avenue Bridge Thursday, May 19, 2022. No one was injured, according to KCMO police. (Kansas City Missouri Police Department on Facebook)

The funds were not included in the city’s 2022 budget; however, “they are available from the Fund’s net position,” according to the agenda item. The cost is equivalent to just short of nine days of the solid waste division’s operations.

The solid waste fund must retain at least 120 days of operating expenditures on hand, under city policy. “The reason we believe this much excess net position is necessary is for instances such as this, where the replacement of an essential vehicle is needed and cannot wait for the next capital planning process,” the agenda explains.

The culprit bridge is well known in its Kansas City, Missouri, neighborhood — and quite beloved by some. It bears a sign to let drivers know of its 12-foot clearance, but trucks regularly hit it.

As some commenters noted on Facebook posts about this crash and others, it might be helpful if there were a sign further back that gave trucks more notice and an opportunity to exit the street before wedging themselves beneath the bridge. KMBC 9 reported last month that a warning system could be put in place later this year.

“The Independence Avenue Bridge doesn’t waste any opportunities to eat,” the KCMO police department posted to Facebook regarding the Lawrence trash truck crash.

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August Rudisell / The Lawrence Times RIP, No. 418.
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