Truck rollover at Flinders/Spencer. Again.

I was curious to see how many times in the last year that trucks have missed the “Low clearance 4.0” (metres) height warning and crashed into the guard rail for the rail bridge at Spencer and Flinders Streets, before rolling-over and blocking the intersection.

Spencer/Flinders St bridge, Melbourne

(Or look on: Google Streetview)

Answer via Google News archive search: at least four times in the last year, including this morning.

17/12/2009 Truck rollover in Melbourne’s CBD causes traffic chaos

24/2/2010 Tram and traffic delays caused as truck rolls on the corner of Flinders St and Spencer St in Melbourne

21/3/2010 Truck rollover blocks intersection of Spencer and Flinders streets

4/10/2010 Truck rolls over in Melbourne CBD

(One link suggested another one in April 2010, but I haven’t found a news report of it.)

For non-locals, this is one of the busiest intersections in central Melbourne, with many cars, buses and five tram routes passing through. The rail bridge is also a key one, with most metropolitan train services using it. Lucky the guard rail is apparently strong enough to prevent the trucks crashing into the bridge itself.

Let’s assume for a moment it wasn’t steering or brake failure. Do trucks have any kind of reminder in the cab of the height of the load? For semi-trailers I assume this would vary from job to job, whereas some other vehicles (the one in February was a garbage truck) would be a fixed-height.


8/10/2010 — It happened again

19/11/2010 — And again

6/5/2011Truck jammed under notorious rail bridge

1/8/2011Truck trap hits city traffic

5/3/2013 — I’m not sure if it’s been less frequent or less reported, but today it happened again

10/4/2013And again:

5/4/2014And again:

  • Age: Truck slams into Flinders Street rail bridge causing delays
  • Herald Sun: Online blogger Daniel Bowen has kept a tally of the number of run-ins trucks have had with the rail bridge in recent years. He updated his list following the latest crash, saying similar incidents had happened at least 11 times in the last five years.

7/4/2015 — Another occurrence: Truck stuck under Spencer Street bridge causes traffic delaysEmergency services responded to a callout to the intersection of Spencer Street and Flinders Street after the truck wedged itself under the rail bridge shortly after 2pm.

Update 21/5/2015This Age article notes Metro figures saying the worst bridge in Melbourne is at Napier Street, Footscray, with 43 truck strikes since 2010 (no doubt higher because it’s close to the port). It says the Flinders/Spencer Street bridge has had 11 — which matches my count above.

1/2/2016 — I haven’t tracked these thoroughly during last year, but this might be the first for 2016, affecting the South Morang and Hurstbridge lines, not running via the Loop.

3/10/2019 – I haven’t kept proper track of bridge strikes here – they reduced a lot when signage was installed on surrounding streets – but another one has occurred today. A dashcam caught the moment of impact. Check how long the wheels keep spinning.

It’s not clear from the media reports, but hopefully there were no injuries.

By Daniel Bowen

Transport blogger / campaigner and spokesperson for the Public Transport Users Association / professional geek.
Bunurong land, Melbourne, Australia.
Opinions on this blog are all mine.

15 replies on “Truck rollover at Flinders/Spencer. Again.”

It’s getting almost comical now. Thankfully I think in all four cases you mention Daniel, nobody was injured, though I think that’s more out of luck. Have truck drivers suddenly gotten stupider, because I don’t recall it happening much before this year!

“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by clowns”

Is there any other conclusion we could possibly come up with?

@Daniel. Why cant the line between southern cross and finders st stations be underground and part of the viaduct can be demolished.

Also I could not go from Spencer st to Crown Casino in the rain walking so I had to walk to kings way and I could not use the tram going north from Crown Casino.

@Phill – go and take a look! There’s no way you could get the track underground, then back to the height of Southern Cross in the distance available. Not to mention the expense. If you were going to do anything, you’d lower the road a bit more; however, you’re pretty close to the river there, and much lower you’d be swimming.

Surely it’s not too hard for trucks to take an alternative route if they’re overheight, rather than look to massive engineering solutions… especially when it’s clear that 99.99% of traffic is fine. Four trucks a year would be a very, very low proportion of total traffic through that intersection… charging damages to the relevant driver/company might go some way to reducing further the problem?

I had an ex who was a truckie and he said that it was their responsibility to make sure than the route they were taking had sufficient clearances under all bridges. Lazy truck drivers it seems.

I know it’s not a fix, but I’ve seen some places hang heavy chains that dangle down – like a bead curtain – to the height of the bridge. They’re placed a few hundred meters back – so anything that ignores the signs gets a (loud) bang on the top of their vehicle before the solid impact.

Seems like a cheaper solution than having to shut down the road while a truck is hauled out.

I used to work at McDonald’s. At the start of the drive-thru, they had a sign hanging on a chain to warn you about the height limit. Despite the loud warning striking the sign must have given, I can recall a few occasions where trucks ignored it and proceeded to drive into the roof above the ordering/paying windows. Cos surely the warning sign mustn’t have been meant for them…

Most smaller trucks will have a sticker inside if they’ve thought to put one in, but it’s not a requirement under the law as far as I know. Any driver of a heavy rigid or articulated truck (such as the one that crashed) would know their truck is allowed to be up to 4.3 m high, or 4.6 if it is carrying livestock or has some other special permit. So if I was a driver, I would assume my truck wouldn’t fit under that bridge and go somewhere else.

However I’m also aware that it’s quite a long route to get around that bridge, so perhaps if this driver thought his truck was 30 cm lower than maximum height, he thought he’d give it a go. Still, if I was him, I’d have snuck up slowly and looked out the window as I edged up to it, rather than charging in there without thinking.

Basically if there’s a ‘low clearance’ sign, a driver should assume there is not enough space for a standard heavy truck unless they know what height their truck is. The truck in this particular crash is definitely in the category of ‘probably going to be 4.3 m high’.

The only permanent solution would be to drop the road 350 mm at that location, but cleaning the sign, and perhaps adding a preliminary bar for trucks to hit before the real one, would help.

*** Drum roll ***
*** Drum roll ***

Truck roll!!!

Not one but another two truck rollovers.

First: City Road (collision with tram bridge above) Southbank 7 October (it’s actually the day before Daniel’s comment #11.

Second: Princes Highway, Morwell, about 7:15am this morning. Nothing in Google News, but there was an alert on the radio traffic report, and on VicRoads, which has since disappeared.

*** Sigh ***

great blog

a common issue on this corner is trucks wandering from westgate and docklands way.
the bridge diagonally across from the low one is actually higher and signposted at 4.5m,144.954241&ll=-37.821228,144.954241&z=19&t=k&nmd=20101001

once they turn the corner they dont see the 4m limit until its too late

there is now a temp board up saying ‘ low 4m bridge on sideroad ahead’ at the location in the link

again the overall intersection needs better inspection and re-signing


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