When we first wrote about the 116-year-old covered bridge in the village of Long Grove, Illinois, in April 2021, it had been struck 14 times since it reopened after a restoration project.
Now, as of July 18, it’s been hit 35 times.
The Buffalo Creek Bridge, whose covering has just 8 feet 6 inches of clearance, was restored, and reopened August 14, 2020, after it was severely damaged by a large truck. The truck destroyed the wooden cover on the one-lane metal Pratt truss bridge in 2018, just days after it had been named to the National Register of Historic Places.
After a fundraiser by village residents and supporters to save the bridge, it was rebuilt and given some extra protection in case of future strikes. A steel barrier bar was placed inside the bridge’s cover. Signs ahead of the bridge also warn drivers of its low height.
It only took one day before the newly reopened bridge was struck. This time by a 73-year-old man from Nashville, Tennessee, driving a U-Haul. Rather than damage the bridge, however, the new barrier did the trick. The bridge appeared unscathed. But the U-Haul was worse for wear.
Since then, 34 more drivers have hit the wooden cover. The latest came July 18 when an 11-foot-tall U-Haul got stuck under it. The 50-year-old driver from Lisle, Illinois, got a ticket for failing to heed the signs warning of the low height and faces a fine of up to $750. It took about an hour to tow out the U-Haul from under the covering, according to Chicago Tribune.
Again, because of the metal barrier, the bridge cover was not damaged.
Village officials say they are considering other options to alert drivers to the bridge’s low height, yet are frustrated that all of the warnings so far have been ignored or overlooked.
As for the bridge, that metal barrier is giving it a good chance of sticking around for another 116 years – to the delight of village residents and the disappointment of unaware truck drivers.