JA viaduct crashes

A semitrailer sits lodged beneath the Springfield Avenue viaduct Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in Champaign.

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Q: Have there been fewer trucks colliding with the downtown Champaign viaducts?

A: There have.

In 2017, there were eight viaduct collisions, including six at Springfield Avenue, a state route that seemed to attract trucks that were too tall to fit under the clearance of 11 feet, 10 inches.

Most semitrailers are 13 feet, 6 inches tall.

Viaduct crashes in Champaign

Source: Champaign Police Department

Year Logan St. Market St. Springfield Ave. Green St. Washington St. TOTAL
2012 0 0 0 0 2 2
2013 0 0 1 2 3 6
2014 1 0 1 6 4 12
2015 0 0 1 5 3 9
2016 0 0 2 2 2 6
2017 0 0 6 0 2 8
2018 0 0 0 0 4 4
2019 0 1 0 1 2 4

But since then, there have been no accidents at the Springfield viaduct and just four each of the past two years in Champaign viaducts downtown along the Canadian National railroad.

The Illinois Department of Transportation hasn’t made any changes to that viaduct, operations engineer David Speicher said.

“I don’t know the answer,” he said. “I’d like to think that some of the GPS programs ... are getting better at routing trucks in particular.”

And he didn’t think it had to do with the MCORE construction at the Green Street viaduct ending in 2017, as “trucks going down Green Street are going down Green Street for a reason” and would otherwise avoid it.

Whatever the reason, “here’s hoping that the trend continues,” Speicher said.

When a truck collides with a viaduct, it usually tangles up traffic for hours as towing companies extract the vehicle and clear the scene.

At the Green Street viaduct, which had six crashes in 2014 and five the following year, there has been just one crash since 2016.

After the MCORE construction, 3 more inches of clearance were added, but it’s still not tall enough for most trucks.

And despite flashing lights and low clearance signs, the Washington Street viaduct on the north end of downtown Champaign continues to see between two and four crashes a year since 2012.

The only downtown viaduct tall enough for most trucks, University Avenue, stands at 14 feet, 3 inches, and unsurprisingly hasn’t had any collisions since 2012.