An Augusta police officer directs traffic Monday around a tractor-trailer that hit the train trestle spanning Water Street in Augusta. The trailer and a lamppost were severely damaged, but no injuries were reported. Andy Molloy/Kennebec Journal

AUGUSTA — The so-called “Can Opener” railroad trestle tore open the top of another big rig’s trailer Monday morning on Water Street, badly damaging the trailer and blocking traffic.

The bridge, which is 12 feet 9 inches tall, was built in 1914 and has become notorious for damaging trucks too tall to fit under it. Some of them become stuck under the bridge, some make it out the other side but incur substantial damage and others stop just before driving under the trestle and then need assistance from police to get out of the tight confines surrounding the bridge in the north end of downtown Augusta.

At 10:17 a.m. Monday, a tractor-trailer driver traveling south on Water Street tried to drive under the bridge, towing a trailer apparently taller than 12 feet, 9 inches. The top of the trailer hit the bottom of the bridge, tearing off some of the trailer’s metal roof and causing the trailer walls to partially buckle.

It was the fifth crash involving a trailer at the site this year, according to the Augusta Police Department.

A police report on the accident had not been completed Monday and the identity of the driver was not available, other than that he is from Massachusetts. The truck’s owner was listed as a private individual from Lynn, Massachusetts.

Sgt. Eric Lloyd of the Augusta Police Department said he did not think anyone was hurt in the crash, but the damage to the truck appeared to be significant. He said it appeared the truck’s trailer hit the trestle and kept going, also striking a light pole.


The road was closed to traffic in both directions, with detours set up around the crash site.

“It disfigured the trailer,” Lloyd said. “It was significant damage.”

The railroad trestle, which is wide enough to accommodate two sets of tracks, is no longer used.

Officials with the Maine Department of Transportation have told city officials previously it is unlikely the trestle would be removed because of the state’s obligation to maintain the rail corridor, should rail service return to the area.

In 2020, the state’s director of freight and passenger services told the Augusta City Council the state bought the rail corridor running between Augusta and Brunswick, known as the Lower Road, using federal railroad preservation funds. Given the funding source, the state is required to manage the corridor’s right of way for future rail use.

A $45,000 active warning system was proposed in 2017 for the trestle, near the intersection of Water and Bond streets, but a state DOT spokesperson said in 2020 it was never built because the bids came in too high and the department decided against moving forward with the project.

The low-slung bridge’s location is noted as “the Can Opener” on Google Maps. There are “Low Clearance” signs and signs indicating the bridge is 12 feet 9 inches tall on and before both sides of the structure.

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