We call this bridge the Bay View Truck Eater, because it keeps chomping on trucks.

Photo courtesy of Douglas Rupert

It’s the kind of neighborhood-level oddity that makes life slightly more interesting. The “KK Can Opener,” a railroad overpass atop Kinnickinnic Avenue on the northern edge of Bay View, rips the tops off semitrailers regularly. In May, it chomped on a beer truck, according to the in-character KK Can Opener Facebook account.

What gives? The bridge’s proper yellow signage states a relatively low clearance of 12 feet, 9 inches. But it’s tough to blame the drivers. The vast majority of bridges over state highways are at least a foot taller, and the maximum legal truck height is 13 feet, 6 inches. (You can see one problem right there.) All seven of Wisconsin’s state highway overpasses at or lower than that height are in Milwaukee County. And the Can Opener is just one of five of those on Highway 32, making KK and the state highway’s several other streets a veritable bear trap for tall but legal trucks.

There are no easy fixes. The Can Opener is owned by Canadian Pacific, which reconstructed it in 2013 without raising the clearance.

 

Photo courtesy of George Bluvas

“Roadway clearances and standards are the responsibility of the road authority,” says Canadian Pacific spokesman Andy Cummings.

A laser-powered alerting system to stop big trucks could be installed, but that would likely cost hundreds of thousands of tax dollars. More signs could also help, but anything attached to the bridge would have to be approved by Canadian Pacific. Until then, the Can Opener will continue to feed.


“Bay View’s Truck Eater” appears in the September 2019 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find it on newsstands or buy a copy at milwaukeemag.com/shop.

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