CN Railroad engineer sent out to inspect 80 year-old Imlay structure

IMLAY CITY — At around 1:45 p.m. on Thursday (Dec. 12), a northbound flatbed truck carrying a box van bound for a local recycling yard, struck the 13 foot, 7-inch CN Railroad viaduct on M-53, just north of Third Street.

The impact of the collision caused what was described as a “loud boom” by those in earshot of the collision, which also resulted in considerable debris being scattered beneath and in the vicinity of the 80-year-old bridge.

Imlay City Police said the driver of the flatbed truck that struck the CN Railroad viaduct on M-53 on Thursday (Dec. 12) afternoon thought he had sufficient clearance to avoid hitting the 80-year-old railroad bridge.


Tom Schutz, owner of Output Music at 21 N. Cedar St. (Van Dyke), was in his store near the southwest corner of Third Street at the time of impact.

“I’ve been in here before when trucks have hit that bridge,” said Schutz. “But I think this one was the loudest boom I’ve heard.”

Among those who also heard the initial “crunch” was Imlay City Officer Corey Martin, who had just stepped out of the police station to go on patrol.

“I’ve been here 12 years,” said Officer Martin, “and it seems like every few months someone will hit that viaduct. I knew exactly what it was as soon as I heard it.”

Martin said the driver of the 2007 Kenworth, which is owned by Jim’s Recycling of Attica, believed he had sufficient clearance when he approached the bridge.

“The driver stated he had carried similar loads through there in the past and thought he was low enough,” said Martin. “This one must have been a little taller.”

Martin acknowledged the swift action of Imlay City DPW staff and Lapeer County Road Commission workers for quickly clearing the significant debris from beneath the bridge and along the roadway to allow for continued traffic flow along M-53.

In keeping with protocol, Martin said he notified Lapeer Central Dispatch of the incident, who in turn contacted CN Railroad.
Martin said the railroad sent out an engineer to inspect the track atop the viaduct and the condition of the bridge itself.

“They came out and took pictures to be reviewed by their engineers,” he said. “They inspect and document everything.”

Imlay City Police Chief Scott Pike noted that during his time in Imlay City, he recalls about a half-dozen times that trucks have struck the viaduct.

Officer Martin added that the driver of the flatbed truck was not issued a citation.

Tom Wearing started at the Tri-City Times in 1989, covering the Village of Capac as a beat reporter. He later served stints as assistant editor and editor. Today, he covers Imlay City and Almont as a staff writer. He enjoys music and plays drums and sings with various musical groups in the Detroit Metropolitan area.