The Truck Stops Here


Say you're driving a giant 16-wheel trailer truck and you see a huge lighted sign reading NO TRUCKS. I'd expect you put to two and two together, but apparently more than a few mother-truckers are blind, illiterate, inattentive, heedless, or just plain stupid. I say this with some authority because I've seen with my own eyes this very day, three — count ’em — three large, boxy transport vehicles pulled over on Soldiers Field Road/Storrow Drive between the River Street Bridge and BU.

For years, the only warning signs at Storrow entrances noted the (still in force) "no commercial vehicles" prohibition, and every year you could count on the occasional rent-a-truck idiot to plow his U-Haul into some low overpass on Storrow. Ages ago, back when the Coke plant sat at the SFR on-ramp, I remember a wooden pedestrian bridge connecting BU to the shore of the Charles being completely and dramatically demolished by one wayward long-hauler.

But then, somebody had the really, really good idea of marking the entrance to Soldiers Field Road east by the Doubletree hotel with a low-hanging overhead warning sign. If a bleary or otherwise impaired trucker didn't read it in time, the jolt of having the sign itself smack into the top of his trailer would wake him up and, in most cases, convince him that something was wrong.

Recently, though, that clever dangling instrument of enforcement went away, and sure enough, trucks started hopping onto Soldiers Field Road headed for disaster.

To be fair, the overhead sign has been replaced (temporarily, one hopes) by one of those light-up marquee signs like the ones the Turnpike authority uses to welcome troops home from Iraq or congratulate the Sox. But precisely because those "emergency" signs usually announce something as immediate as "Sign Up for Fast Lane," nobody can really be blamed for ignoring one.

So far, none of this spring's fleet of stray trucks has actually gotten past BU. That's because the ancient railroad bridge across the Charles (basically under the BU bridge) has an 11-foot clearance (well marked). And the span's conspicuously made out of heavy metal. So even your truly underachieving trucker can, at some point just before the George Sherman Union, notice that he's in trouble.

Backing a truck off Storrow Drive must be an adventure of amazing proportions. In past weeks, I've seen the guilty, red-faced drivers surrounded by state cops and emergency equipment. Today though, there were two trucks pulled over onto the narrow turn-out before the railroad bridge unattended. And one of them seemed to be trying to turn itself around.

Memo to the DCR or the state or the city or the Doubletree or Massport or those annoying homeless guys who pretend to direct traffic amid the daily jam at the River Street bridge — whoever's in charge of that nightmare intersection after the Allston tolls: replace the hanging sign. It worked. Only this time make it low enough to knock some sense into an oblivious trucker.

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