Imagine driving a 72 foot tractor/trailer rig through the heart of Brooklyn, New York. It is NOT for the faint of heart, because there is so much that can go wrong! You could easily destroy your truck by not noticing a low clearance sign. Some lanes are so narrow, that your 8’6″ wide trailer virtually touches the lane markings on both sides of the truck. Making turns in such a cramped city is challenging to say the least.
I had three things going for me from the beginning. #1 I prayed that the Almighty would help me. #2 I did my homework researching the matter. #3 I called the consignee/receiver for directions and advice.
I had picked up the load in Berea, Kentucky and was coming in toward New York City on I-78 through New Jersy. The receiver told me they would be there between 5:30 and 6:00 a.m, which was really good news to me, because the traffic would be much better at that early time in the morning. He advised me to take I-287 toward Staten Island.
What a beautiful time in the morning when the sun is coming up. In spite of all that man has built in NYC, there is still much natural beauty in the rivers, bays and Atlantic ocean. The Outer Bridge Crossing onto Staten Island cost me $105.00 to cross with my 18 wheeler. I reluctantly paid the attendant, ascended and then descended the tall bridge onto the island.
On that side of the bridge the road becomes Hwy-440 and I know that I am really all in now. I am off the mainland and at the mercy of New York City as it were. So far, the going is easy, and I travel for some 8-9 miles to I-278. I merge onto I-278 East with no problems, traveling for approximately 6 more miles to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge.
I ascend and descend once again across the tall bridge that separates the Lower Bay from the Upper Bay where the Statue of Liberty stands proudly in the harbor off to my left and far off in the distance. The bays are really gorgeous here in the morning light.
There is no turning back now and the going gets tougher. I am in Brooklyn, New York with my big truck! I had better not make any bad turns, because it could be disastrous. I carefully watch the signs, so as to stay on the correct road in the large interchange just onto Long Island. The interstate is elevated and I focus intensely on the signs looking for the 3rd Avenue exit. I spot the sign and make the exit easy enough.
I am now on a three-lane one-direction road that is separated from the three lanes going in the opposite direction. What separates the two are the supports for I-278 that is running above me. The interstate cross-girders jut out over 3rd Avenue on both sides, but there is enough clearance for my 13’6″ high trailer. I continue my journey past 61st street, 60th, 59th, 58th, down to: ah there it is up ahead, 45th street.
It gets really hairy now. Even this early in the morning, there are cars rushing around me from time to time, and I watch my mirrors carefully. The receiver told me that I could make a u-turn here no problem. Hmmmm. That sounds like something a New Yorker would say about these roads. I will have to turn across a lane or two just to make the tight square u-turn. I slow down waiting for that moment in time, when I can hog the whole road for my turn. The opportunity comes and I am going to make the turn from the center lane. I swing my tractor wide for the turn, placing my tractor squarely across the third lane, and stop to wait for the light to change from red to green. My trailer is still sitting in the center lane and no one can move forward in these two lanes, because my tractor and trailer have them both blocked.
The light finally changes to green and I continue to swing my tractor as wide as I can without hitting anything; and sure enough, my trailer just misses the steel girder that supports I-278. I am perpendicular to I-278, but down underneath, preparing to finish my u-turn onto 3rd Avenue headed in the opposite direction. Thankfully my trailer just misses the steel girder above my trailer and to the left. Phew! I am now in the first lane on the other side of I-278.
I scrutinize addresses carefully. Sure enough, just as the receiver told me, the forklift shop is just ahead a block and a half. As I pull up, a man glances up from the doorway where he is sitting and then looks back down at what he is doing. I pull up and pull my air brakes on right there in the first lane, because there is no where else to park. I get my paperwork and approach the man that glanced up at me. He is the right man, and he has been waiting for me. Nice. He tells me to pull up just a little more and I do. I pull the air brakes back on, step down out of my truck, move to the back and open the big doors.
I climb into the back of the trailer and begin to take off securement straps and hammer away the wooden blocks that are nailed into the floor to keep the forklifts from moving. While I am doing this, I notice someone moving a car hauler that has a sliding bed. He makes the automatic sliding bed go back and settle just onto and inside of my trailer, and fairly tightly between the doorposts. Wow! Perfect. Another man gets on the rear forklift, starts it up and drives it onto the car hauler. The other man is now on another forklift on the ground. He pulls forward under the new forklift and lifts it off the car hauler, backs up and lowers it to the ground. Well done! What a plan! Obviously they have done this before.
The first man is now on the second forklift inside my trailer and he struggles with this one for a minute before it goes on, but he succeeds once again in driving it out onto the car hauler. The second man on the ground repeats the process, and just like that, the two men finish unloading the two forklifts. They sign my paperwork and tell me to go up another block and a half, do another u-turn onto 3rd Avenue in the direction I was going orignally. Very good; I am ready to go after only about 20 minutes.
I climb back into the cab of my tractor and push off the air brakes. This is going really well; I think to myself. I pull up to the traffic light once again and make half the u-turn, once again missing the steel girder that supports I-278 and wait for the light to change. Several New Yorkers glance up. Who knows what they are thinking? The light changes and once again I finish the u-turn; and sure enough, my trailer just misses the steel girder support for I-278. Good deal.
I head back down 3rd Avenue looking for the right entrance onto I-278, but there are three choices. I decide against the first road and am correct, but the signs do not seem to be placed well and I choose the wrong street. DANG! This is just what I did not want to do. I-278 is no longer elevated and I am riding above it instead of on it, where I wanted to be. This street is really small for trucks; in fact, I don’t think trucks go here. I do not panic, but I am deeply concerned. I am just missing the parked cars on my right, and the driver in the lane to the left is afraid to pull up by my truck, because the lanes are so small and cars close to each other.
We come to an intersection where the light is red. Thank you heavenly Father! I quickly pull up my map, carefully scrutinizing it for a way onto I-278. It looks like I can do it a couple of streets up and I pray for help. Making my way carefully down the tight 2-lane one-way street, I arrive at the intersection that I found on the map. There is no way to continue across the intersection and down this same street in a truck this big; but thankfully, it is the right place I was looking for. I swing wide to make my turn, while keeping an eye on anything high or low that I could hit. Woah! I am able to turn left and then right and merge onto I-278.
I worship Almighty YaHVeh right there in my truck for His goodness in helping me to not strand myself impossibly.
Evenso, I am not out of the woods yet. Traffic is getting more heavy. We move slowly down I-278. Have mercy on me! The overpass ahead has a sign saying 12’9″. My trailer is 13’6″. There is no way I am going to plow right under that. I throw a quick prayer up to heaven, while I brake and come to a stop right in the middle of I-278. I roll the window down and look up at my trailer. I can’t tell, so I release the air brake, ease up a little, pull the air brake back on and roll down passenger window and look up at the trailer. I still can’t tell. Amazingly, cars are patiently pulling around my truck and going on. I don’t hear horns honking. Once again I release the air brakes and pull up a little bit more, once again pulling on the air brake. Again, I get up and look out the passenger window. A big sigh of relief, because there seems to be just enough clearance under the overpass for my tractor/trailer rig. I release the air brakes again and pass right under the overpass without any problems. Whewy! That was nerve-racking, but a little bit exciting all at the same time. What kind of city puts a low clearance sign on an overpass with no explanation? Have mercy on me.
I am cruising along once again, and I notice the overpass ahead is arch shaped and has a sign of 12’9″ inches pointing at the right side corner of the overpass. Unfortunately, I am in the far right lane. I glance quickly into my mirror and thankfully no one is there in the lane to the left of me. I quickly swing the truck to the left into the middle lane, avoiding destroying the upper right corner of my trailer. Thank-you heavenly Father once again for rescuing me.
One more overpass is ahead with a low point on the right side, but I am able to stay away from that one easily. There is a nice view of the bay over to my left, with skyscrapers over there on Manhatten Island. I-485 junction comes up right away and I am relieved to be leaving Brooklyn. I deliver my last two forklifts to Ronkonkoma, New York some 60 miles out on Long Island without further incident. Traveling back to the west, I pay $46.00 to cross the Throggs Neck Bridge, merge onto I-95, travel maybe 6 miles, cross the north side of Manhatten Island, cross the George Washington Bridge and I am home free. Yay! I believe that is enough excitement for one day, er, month.
Proverbs 21:31, “The horse is prepared against the day of battle, but SAFETY is of the Lord.”
Almighty God has my back. HalleleuYaH!