This one could be clipped and pasted into the annals of cautious journalism. The Seattle Times has a dramatic photo of a bus crushed under the Arboretum aqueduct — the low footbridge over Lake Washington Blvd. The roof is caved in, and adjacent to the wreck is a "Low Clearance" sign. The story accompanying the photograph says "the private charter bus apparently was too tall for a 9-foot underpass ..." Apparently? What's the alternative explanation? The bridge is alive and decided to squat down on a hapless bus? Or a frisky bus decided to leap up at the wrong instant and bumped its head?
The Arboretum's low overpass has been taking bites out of tall vehicles for years. I rented a moving van years ago from a downtown Seattle agency and their wall was covered with pictures of trucks destroyed by that wonderful old structure, most of them with their lids pealed back like a can of sardines. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports a nearby resident saying such accidents happen every couple of weeks, and the driver is usually in a rental. In other words, it's amateurs who neglect to read the signs and realize that you can't drive an 11-foot truck under a 9-foot bridge. I've seen the results of a number of these accidents. This one is more dramatic than the usual scalping. All seem to leave drivers and passengers stunned, as if struck by lightning.
Just what is the bridge? Well, it's not really a bridge per se, though you can walk across it. Romantics call it an aqueduct because it carries a water line. Ok, truthfully, it's a sewer line. That's a reason it would be difficult to raise the structure. Less romantically, it's called the "Arboretum Sewer Trestle." That's how it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's also a Seattle city historic landmark (since 1976) under the name of "Arboretum Aqueduct." No other other historic landmark I can think of takes such a beating, but fortunately it was built like a brick shit house, which is kind of what it is.
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