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Old 07-29-2010, 05:02 PM   #1
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Bridge Clearance

We just bought our first RV, a Monaco Diplomat, and are just realizing how many questions we have about traveling in an RV. For instance, our Diplomat is 13' 5" to the top of the satellite. How do you know if the bridges and overpasses you encounter will have enough clearance, other than just driving up to them and reading the clearance? Is there some directory that lists clearances on a route?
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Old 07-29-2010, 05:23 PM   #2
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Never had a problem with bridge clearance. You should never have a problem on freeways and main roads. If a semi truck will fit, you will fit. Back roads can be a problem. I have had my antennas scrape against some lower bridges. Watch out for low bridge warning signs. For the most part there is ample warning. I think you can get a truckers map at most truck stops that list low clearance bridges and other things that truckers need to look out for.
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Old 07-29-2010, 06:59 PM   #3
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Watch for signs. Anything low on a main road will be marked.

Get a Trucker's Atlas at a truck stop. If the road is marked as a truck route, you're good. There's a section for each state that lists low clearances.

If you have a GPS that will take POI files, you can get low clearance ones at a number of sites. lowclearances.com has some really good ones, but they are on a subscription basis. I like them because you can pick the one with the specific height you're looking for. I'm pretty sure that poi-factory.com also has clearance POIs.

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Old 07-29-2010, 07:56 PM   #4
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If you are planning on visiting the East, check your route with care. I've never had problems out West. Avoid Eastern parkways. Good luck.
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Old 07-29-2010, 08:04 PM   #5
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The only places I have had a height concerns were near Zion National Park (Utah) and up near Mt. Rushmore (South Dakota) on back roads. Both locations were clearly marked with height restrictions.
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:24 PM   #6
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Oh Canada

If you drive into Canada, be careful. We were at Niagra Falls on the Canadian side in 2007 when we came upon a bridge that had the height in meters. 3.3 meters. As a retired airline pilot I immediately knew we had a problem which was unanticipated. We would have peeled 3 feet of our roof if we had not turned. Know your feet to meters or meters to feet conversion.
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Old 07-29-2010, 09:31 PM   #7
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Better yet, just learn one magic number in meters, and put a sticky on your dash to remind yourself. For me, it's 4.5.

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Old 07-29-2010, 10:48 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catch and Release View Post
If you drive into Canada, be careful. We were at Niagra Falls on the Canadian side in 2007 when we came upon a bridge that had the height in meters. 3.3 meters. As a retired airline pilot I immediately knew we had a problem which was unanticipated. We would have peeled 3 feet of our roof if we had not turned. Know your feet to meters or meters to feet conversion.
As a rertirted pilot you probably remember the Air Canada Gimli glider. That was a mix up of liters/tones/tonnes/lbs. taking on fuel. Long story short a 767 (I think) ran out of gas and the pilot, also a skilled glider pilot, got it down without too much damage. So accurate metric imperial conversion is important
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Old 07-30-2010, 06:03 AM   #9
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bridges over 16 ft in height are not marked, most of these are on the the interstate system, there are a few that are low, but as the bridge wears down and being replace they raise the height, I did over size loads in height and lenth as well as being wide, most of the time we had an excort, however we still wear route off the interstate due to low bridges. Today in a MH, I wouldn't be concern, but if you travel the back roads then I keep an eye out for low bridges, unless its a truck route, and even them still watch. cities like Chicago has/had a problem with low bridges that are not marked and many professional drivers did deliver bridges, this was back in the 90's
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Old 07-30-2010, 07:16 AM   #10
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The best atlas I have found is the Rand McNally Motor Carriers Road Atlas. Its not cheap but containes a wealth of information, including bridge clearances, Legal lengths, and auxillary breaking requirements. I use it along with the GPS for route planning. We seldom use interstate highways.
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:19 AM   #11
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Hi - in Alberta, Canada, where we live, it is easy to get bridge heights on the internet. There are some good suggestions above. My clearance (taped onto my dashboard) is 13 feet or 4 meters. Finally, I have brushed leaves of low hanging trees on some roads in Calgary - just another height restriction to watch out for while driving.
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Old 07-30-2010, 01:15 PM   #12
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First, Any bridge or overpass less than 16 feet clearance SHOULD be signed... Alas, sometimes the sign is either forgotten or goes AWOL

I recall one accident.. A car went off the road and HIT the overpass sign.

Right,, 16 feet up, over the road, that's where the car hit the bridge. OUCH.

The other way is to get a painter's pole.. This is an extension handle for use with a paint roller.. They come in various lengths from about 4 feet (one piece) to .. Well, I've worked with a professional and his was at least 40 feet.

Mine is 12 feet.

You extend it to the same length as you need clearance, Mark it with a magic marker. And walk under the bridge,

NOTE: you might want to make it six to 12 inches longer in case the road "Dips" under the bridge.
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Old 07-30-2010, 01:25 PM   #13
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You can get some information here Low Clearances
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Old 07-30-2010, 09:34 PM   #14
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I think that most states don't placard any bridge that's over 14' 6", which is the clearance for the OTR truck rigs. Anything less has to be placarded. Often the bridge slopes, and one side is lower than the other. In that case the sign goes over the bridge section that is the lowest clearance.

In Mount Vrenon, WA, we used to have a freeway overpass that was only 14' 2". It was the lowest overpass on I-5 between the Mexican and Canadian borders. After 20+ years of having vehicles hit it at speed, the city and various other agencies rebuilt the whole thing to give over 16' of clearance.

If you come off northbound I-5 at Kincaid Street in Mount Vernon, the clearance as you go west into town. under the freeway, is only 14' 1". Our local transit agency were looking at the currently available Dennis double decker buses (known in latte country as "double talls") for a high-density commuter route, but their overall height, at 14' 0", is too close to the bridge clearance.
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