The Infamous “Can Opener Bridge” Loses Its Status


You might say that going viral is the beginning of the end for the person or thing in question. First there’s an immense wave of attention and then…..it’s over…..forgotten — unless, of course, you’re talking about the Norfolk Southern-Gregson Street Overpass in Durham, North Carolina. The 11-foot 8-inch bridge — affectionately known as the “Can Opener” — was an Internet sensation that lived to unprecedented old age. In 2008, Jurgen Henn set up a camera in his office nearby to document the crashes showing trucks too tall to pass beneath the unusually low railroad trestle. Henn estimates there was about one collision a month, despite the extensive signage and an elaborate light sensor system warning drivers of the height. After 11 glorious years, the Durham Transportation Department finally took it upon themselves to raise the bridge eight inches, the most elevation they were able offer without dismantling another crossing nearby. This was no tragedy for people just trying to move their furniture in Budget trucks, but for the rest of Durham, they lost something special — a monument to failure.