New York Times – June 1, 2007:

It was just six inches.

That was what made the difference at 4:40 a.m. yesterday as Gilberto Cantu, a truck driver from Texas, approached the New Jersey entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel in his big rig, loaded with bathtubs, toilets and plumbing fixtures. The truck was 13 feet 6 inches high. The tunnel has a height limit of 13 feet. Six inches can make a big difference.

Mr. Cantu drove the entire 1.5 miles of the tunnel from Weehawken, N.J., to Manhattan, tearing his way under the Hudson River in the tunnel’s center tube and peeling back the roof of his tractor-trailer as if it were a tin can. No one was injured, but an undetermined number of decorative tunnel ceiling tiles were ripped off.

It was unclear why Mr. Cantu did not heed warnings from flashing signs and a loudspeaker in New Jersey, said Steve Coleman, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the tunnel. “There were enough bells and whistles going off that this should not have happened,” Mr. Coleman said. “He told the officers he didn’t know where he was going.”

  1. hhopper says:

    And again we find that “size matters.”

  2. tim says:

    He probably didn’t speak english

  3. Rob says:

    Imagine what it must have been like for the driver of the Mini Cooper right behind that truck.

  4. Mr. Fusion says:

    A terrorist. He must have been, he ended up shutting down the Lincoln Tunnel.

    Why didn’t the police shoot him when they had the chance?

  5. Jägermeister says:

    And here’s the truck driver when he stepped out of his car at home.

  6. Jetfire says:

    This is not that uncommon. Having worked in the trailer manufacturing business for the past 20 years. I worked with on company that did trailer repairs. They had a truck come after it just hit a low bridge that is down the road. When the customer picked it up the driver hit the bridge from the opposite direction. I don’t believe it was the same driver that hit it the first time. We always said that the repair company paid the railroad to keep the bridge up so they would get more business. Since the railroad didn’t use it anymore. It has been taken down since then.

  7. BubbaRay says:

    #5, Jägermeister, I think that’s my great uncle, he looks pretty good for 101 years old, doesn’t he? My great aunt who’s only 95 has to drive him around now. Thanks, ed. for putting the picture inline.

  8. So many bigots... says:


    I didn’t know bells and whistles could only be understood by English speakers. I guess you learn something new every day…

  9. BubbaRay says:

    #6, Jetfire, where I live there used to be a 90 right angle curve to get to my house and, true story, there was a pay telephone right there with a couple of tow truck adverts attached to the pole. We of course called it ‘dead man’s curve’, but there sure were a lot of people who ended up in the ditch.

  10. BertDawg says:

    FWIW – Many of the bridges and overpasses in and around the NYC area are misrepresented as to clearance, especially in Manhattan. Many say the clearance is 12’6″, when in fact the actual clearance is over 13’6″. Don’t why this is, but it can lead one to a false sense of accessibility. The Lincoln Tunnel, however, IS in fact 13’0″, more’s the pity for this driver, who doubtless no longer works for the same carrier. They have no sense of humor about things like that.

  11. #10
    Professional drivers should obey traffic signs no matter what.
    It is irellevant what the actual height is. If you are taller than the sign or not allowed on that road, you shouldn’t be there. Those are signs, not calls for judgement.

    This is my “pet peeve” as every week I am stuck in traffic on NYC parkways with such idiot truck drivers. First, on every entrance there is 8ft by 10ft sign that trucks are not alloved… They enter. There are chains at the limiting height to alert dirvers. They hit them and go. There are signs on the low bridges showing that they are too low. They ignore them… On average in NYC area this is literally daily occurence. If city was wise they’d set $100,000 fine and the jail for such idiocy as every careless trucker delays thousands of normal people and damages the infrastructure….


  12. Jägermeister says:


    95 and driving… Hopefully she’s a healthy lady with all her senses on full alert. 🙂

  13. BubbaRay says:

    #12, Jägermeister, she’s one tough bowl of shaky pudding, I sure won’t cross her. I think she can see better than I, she doesn’t even need glasses !!

  14. Jägermeister says:


    One heck of a lady in other words. I wish to be that clear when I get old. 🙂

  15. hhopper says:

    Jägermeister – I’ve stared at that photo for a while. I don’t get it.

  16. BubbaRay says:

    #15, Hop, that white cane should be a clue….

  17. noname says:

    There is just, no excuse to continue to drive, after smacking the tunnel roof.

    “Mr. Cantu drove the entire 1.5 miles of the tunnel from Weehawken, N.J., to Manhattan, tearing his way under the Hudson River in the tunnel’s center tube and peeling back the roof of his tractor-trailer as if it were a tin can.”

    Between the noise this would have made, the obvious change in drag and handling, the loads of sparks flying everywhere, the trailer is even sagging in the middle, it’s a wonder the wheels managed to maintain their alignment, without the rear turning to one side, thank God there wasn’t anything like wood or paper to catch fire.

    You do not have to speak any languages to realize this! It just amazing no one got hurt. Makes me wonder, did the cops stop him (must of heard the sirens and seen the lights) or did he stop on his own accord. This is deserves more then a ticket, this driver should be charged with attempted involuntary manslaughter! Complete Idiot! Get him off the road!

  18. natefrog says:

    Maybe he was just really into the Matrix?

    “There is no roof…”

  19. TJGeezer says:

    #11 – dusan maletic – A friend works as an engineer for California’s highway department. He say he deals with truck drivers who thinks signs warning bigrigs off winding mountain roads don’t apply to them – they get stuck on hairpin turns all the time. He says truck drivers resemble refrigerators. When the door closes, the light goes out.

  20. qsabe says:

    And he was only another Texas intellectual dropout. Wait until they open the gates at Laredo for the truckers further south.

  21. Improbus says:

    I wonder if this was this guy’s first trip to New York in a truck. There is a big difference between driving in and around New York and driving around the Midwest. If you haven’t been there before the signage in New York is a bit odd. In case anyone wants to know the difference between the posted bridge height and it’s actual height in New York is one foot. They call this “snow clearance”. This, of course, does not apply to tunnels.

    The last time I was in New York in a truck I was involved in an accident on the Brooklyn Bridge. A car side swiped me and it tore the living hell out of the driver’s side of the car. All I saw were her [the driver] eyes in her rear view mirror. She didn’t stop and neither did I. I got out to check my truck later and found that only a little paint had been scraped off my bumper. That is New York for you. I am so glad I don’t have to drive a truck anymore.

  22. OmarTheAlien says:

    “Obey the signage”, right. On the Brooklyn/Queens there is a sign that says “All Trucks Over 12’6″ Use Next Exit”. There has never been, in all my transits of the NYC labyrinthe in a big truck, anything lower than 14′ all the way to the LIE. NYC is a whole ‘nother deal than driving any where else in the country. LIke the night I barreled down the Cross Bronx, and the sign on the GWB said lower level closed to all traffic, and the next sign said no trucks on the upper level. An interesting evening.
    But the guy in the tunnel was probably a non-English speaker, and trucking companies are so desperate for warm bodies to sit behind a wheel they’ll literally hire anyone who sort of qualifies. The bells probably scared hell out of him and he just dropped the hammer trying to get away from the noise.

  23. BertDawg says:

    #11 – And yet every damn thing you have – the clothes you wear, the food you eat, the materials your quarters are made of, the TP you wipe your prominent butt with, even the computer you’re bangin’ away on – all of that was brought to you by truck. I’d like to see YOU out there getting that thankless job done, despite ridiculous and arbitrary laws, difficult living conditions, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of equally moronic four-wheel operators, and a widspread antipathy against you. Go ahead, pinhead, bite the hand that feeds you. A little empathy goes a long way.

  24. Joel says:

    It was only six inches. That’s what she said,

  25. jason says:

    Thats crazy me and my dad use to drive threw that tunnal all the time with a big truck when i was a kid.


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