The Tennessee Star Report Takes a Call from a Career Trucker with Insights into Recent Bridge Collapse in Chattanooga

On Thursday’s Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 am to 8:00 am – Gill and Leahy discussed the recent report from CNN about the Chattanooga bridge collapse.

The duo took a call from a career trucker named Art who expressed some interesting views on the situation and the possible reason it could have happened:

Gill: This report by CNN that the bridge rail collapse down in the Chattanooga area was because a truck hit it and sliced some of the steel beams that held the barrier, the wall in place. Let’s go to Art. He had a comment about a truck hitting the bridge. Art, good morning. Welcome to the Tennessee Star Report.

Art: Thank you. Thank you. Great show, love your show every morning.

Gill: Thank you

Leahy: Thanks Art.

Art: Just a different comment on this truck thing. I haul delivery equipment and have and you name it for about 28 years and part of the problem is not just the trucks. They get a permit to haul this stuff, these oversized loads and normally DOT or TDOT or wherever they originate from, give them a permit and maps out a route that they take. And they do it because they know what the height of the ridges are.

Leahy: Hmmhmm.

Art: Now, that being said, when they come in and resurface the bridges they take four inches off of that every-time they surface the roads and if you’ll look at your TDOC stub, they don’t change the signs saying clearance.

Leahy: Ah.

Gill: Interesting.

Leahy: Never knew that.

Art: And the bridges are, you take four inches off and you resurface that thing three times you’ve cut a foot off of it. If it said fifteen three it’s now fourteen three. and those guys going down the road at sixty, seventy miles an hour with that permit road that they’ve been ordered to go that route do not know that that road has been surfaced and that bridge has been lowered by a foot.

Gill: So the folks at TDOT should be, you’ll see them sometimes scrape off the asphalt and then re-do it so it’s not building up higher levels between the road and the bridges. But if they don’t scrape it off then you’re right, it would build up the higher level and that would close the gap.

Art: That’s true. And when they scrape it off they only take about an inch and a half. That scraper is set a different depths. There’s one sitting right next to our store down here right now. And that scraper goes down about an inch and a half, they cut off the top of it and then they put the new what they call a cap. When they put that cap on there it’s just strictly to smooth out the road and resurface the road. But it still adds because when that cap goes on there, instead of an inch and a half, they put a four-inch cap on it because then they pack it down, that’s why you see the big rollers going up and down.

Gill: Now Art, I don’t want to be overly cynical or skeptical, not that I would ever be overly cynical or skeptical.


Gill: But do you think TDOT will point the…

Art: Never

Gill: The finger at themselves when they do the investigation or do you think they’ll continue to claim it just some truck that was going rogue.

Art: Of course not. It will be this truckers fault. And even with that said, it could still be the truckers fault. I mean, you know you never know. I mean there’s guys, there’s some of these companies that run on all the roads down there with no permits. You name it.

Gill: But there ought to be a thorough and accurate investigation. But we should feel confident because the new director of the Tennessee Department of Transportation (Speaks conspicuously) he’s not a road guy he’s like a building construction guy, so. (Art laughs) So I’m sure he has the expertise to figure this out.

Art: You bet ya. All you got to do is go and look at some of the houses they built.


Art: But anyways.

Gill: Thanks for the insight. That’s great insight. And hopefully the folks at the Tennessee Department of Transportation will be aware that the scrutiny is going to be on them. Hopefully, some legislators will be asking the right questions. Let’s get a real independent investigation and not count on the Tennessee Department of Transportation to admit, “Hey, we screwed up! Or we didn’t screw up!”  Because whatever they say we shouldn’t trust.

Leahy: Art what were you going to ask?

Art: Can I add one more little comment?

Leahy: Yes.

Art: One more comment I want to add. I’ve heard some of the comments and take this for what’s it’s worth. Everybody in California is not a wacko.

(Leahy chuckles)

Gill: Just the one’s that stay. At lease some of the smart one’s are willing to leave.

Leahy: Are you from California Art?

Art: I was born and raised there and spent seventy years there.

Leahy: Where in California?

Art: Bakersfield.

Leahy: And what brought you to Tennessee?

Art: Kids and grandkids and great grandkids.

Gill: And because all those people in California are wackadoodles!


Art: My whole family moved back here.

Leahy: Ah, smart move.

Gill: Well we’re glad to have you Art.

Art: And we appreciate your show.

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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 am to the Tennessee Star Report with Steve Gill and Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Truck Driver” by Veronica538. CC BY-SA 3.0.







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