By Nancy Dashwood
HOWARD LAKE Many Minnesotans refer to summer as “road construction season.” Around Howard Lake, however, there’s another name for it: the “bridge-hit season.”
The small and innocuous railroad bridge sits unassumingly over County Road 6.
Despite many different precautions and signs tried through the years, some drivers, though driving vehicles that are taller, barrel toward the bridge anyway.
The bridge hits have occurred frequently enough to warrant warning signs placed miles away from the bridge itself.
There is a warning sign near the Middleville Township Hall, which is four miles north of the bridge.
There is also a warning sign at the intersection of County Road 107 and County Road 6, placed three miles from the bridge.
The railroad bridge is unforgiving: semis, campers, trailers, or anything over the height restriction will hit the bridge, and the vehicle will sustain damage.
Howard Lake Police Chief Dave Thompson, who took the top two photos to showcase the bridge’s height warning signs, has taken even further precautions prior to this weekend’s Winstock Country Music Festival.
“For Winstock weekend, the highway department installed a changeable message board just north of the bridge as an additional measure to warn drivers of the low railroad bridge,” Thompson stated.
The changeable sign indicates drivers should know their vehicle’s height, and once again warns that there is a low bridge with a clearance of 11 feet, 7 inches, straight ahead.
“We want everyone to have a safe and enjoyable time at Winstock,” Thompson said. “We don’t want anyone to ruin their weekend by wrecking their RV or camper on the way to the festival. The city and the police department have been working with the Wright County Highway Department on ways to reduce bridge strikes.”
Although there is a tongue-in-cheek social media site dubbed “Victims of the Howard Lake bridge,” residents expecting visitors could play nice and remind people that they are going to need to cross under that bridge. And that bridge doesn’t lie.