An ode to the Montague Street Bridge in Melbourne: truck swallower, monument to failure | Patrick Lenton

When I moved to Melbourne for love earlier this year, I was only really excited about two things: living in the same town as my partner and getting closer to the infamous Montague Street Bridge – the damn suburban viaduct notorious for swallowing trucks.

A truck that gets caught under a bridge that’s too low is no fun in itself. It can even be a small tragedy, depending on your investment in the maintenance of the trucks or perhaps in the freight carried. In 2017, the bridge engulfed a bus, injuring a dozen passengers.

But the Montague Street Bridge – a modest and short king of bridges – has become inherently funny due to the sheer volume of trucks it munchies on like a hungry, hungry hippo.

If you’re a news broadcaster like me (absolutely keen to find out what’s going on in terms of events, things to do, etc.), you are probably familiar with the Montague Street Bridge: a railroad bridge in the south of Melbourne, between Woodgate Street and Gladstone Lane. It was built in 1914 with a very low headroom of 3 meters, and it is just too short – or more precisely, the street below is too high (it was raised in the past due to flooding).

The bridge pops up every two months along with another story of a truck slamming its way into it: sort of a Venus fly trap for cars with backpacks. It happened so often that it became a joke; a website has popped up called How many days since the Montague Street Bridge was hit, and it also has a Twitter account and a variety of fan groups on Facebook. They all follow, document and discuss the various truck incidents under the bridge, and they have a lot of work to do.

In an attempt at Gonzo journalism, and despite the hatred of driving, I made it to the bridge this week for this article (I’m the Hunter S Thompson being scared all the time). I’ve been treated to a slew of warning signs and alerts, which mean you’re close to Australia’s most famous bridge (closely followed by the Sydney Harbor Bridge, which doesn’t eat anything but spit fireworks in the sky itself). There’s even a gantry that your truck will drive under and hit hard, alerting you to the fact that you’re about to be run over. Tuesday’s victim, a furniture truck, broke a 105-day streak of peace between truckers and the bridge.

Bridges and trucks lead complicated lives, with an ancient dance in between. A little known fact about zoos is the regularity with which they have to transport giraffes – they have to move long horses from zoo to zoo so that they can have sex with each other. Protocols are complicated: Trucks full of giraffes must take a roundabout route around town in the early hours of the morning, avoiding bridges or tunnels, removing power lines in long strings along the way.

Maybe we’re stuck forever with the Montague Street Bridge, that ominous structure, a Cthulian hangover for the logistics industry.

It is our instinct to view the bridge as an artefact cursed as a result, the town-planning version of a haunted house. We think of the mermaids of ancient Greek mythology, the bridge seductively singing a song of free passage and soaring height limits, drawing sailors to their doom.

As someone who’s always been a nervous driver, it’s in my nature to believe that the roads are here to catch me, like a Stephen King-Jack Kerouac: On the (Evil) Road mashup. Is it just bad highway construction, or is there something unknowable, scary, and chaotic at its root? And does that explain its appeal – the unknowable?

As I walked home with white fists in the car, seeing the Melbourne Star on the way (RIP, left too early), I realized my search for the bridge had been spurred on by something similar to my move. in Melbourne: I I’m chasing something special, rare and dangerous. If my relationship goes bad, it might be like driving my huge dream truck across a bridge and seeing it absolutely smashed into truck dough, accordion-smashed, mocked by onlookers, peers, and coworkers.

Maybe that’s why we’re obsessed with the bridge. It is a monument to people who have tried their best and failed.


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