Don’t Get Caught by Low Bridges, get Data for Streets and Trips

January 3, 2011 by Chris Guld · 22 Comments  
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Our motorhome is not a big rig, so we don’t get caught by low bridges very often.  Actually it only happened once in our 7 years on the road, in upstate New York.  We came around a bend and came face to face with a railroad bridge at 11 feet above the roadway.  We measure 11 1/2 feet.  Luckily there was a place to turn around.  Unluckily, there was no easy way to get to where we planned to go.

So we changed our plans!

If your plans are less flexible than ours, or if you have a bigger rig, low clearance information can be very important.

Streets and Trips Free Low Clearance Data

If you use Microsoft Streets and Trips, you probably know about all the data files available from the Discovery Owners’ website.  Or, better yet, you can use the ‘Megafile’ that combines all the pertinent data sets.  I’ve written previously about the Megafile.  The Megafile includes the following low clearance pushpin sets:


I have had people tell me that they know of bridges that are not included in these sets.  If you’re willing to pay a few bucks, you can get a more complete set of data from I can’t vouch for this site personally, but I learned about it from the official Streets and Trips blog.  You can find more detail there.

No Automatic Routing

Realize that these data sets are just that, data sets.  It’s up to you to plan your route accordingly.  Microsoft Streets and Trips does not have the capability to automatically avoid low clearances in setting your route.

Personally, I think that is a good thing.  For example, if I let my GPS navigation software plan my route in Tennessee, I would not be able to visit the Thousand Trails at Natchez Trace, which is a gorgeous place!  There is a low bridge at 11 Ft.  But, if you read the Thousand Trails directions, you will know that there is a little gravel bypass drive just beside the road that provides plenty of space!

by Chris Guld, Geeks on Tour

Geeks on Tour is a membership website with hundreds of Tutorial Videos on topics of interest to travelers, such as managing digital photos with Picasa, Route-Planning with Streets and Trips, and sharing your travels with a website using Blogger.  Members can view all of the videos in the Learning Library.

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22 Responses to “Don’t Get Caught by Low Bridges, get Data for Streets and Trips”

  1. C. Mercer on January 3rd, 2011 5:52 pm

    We bought a Garmin 465T for truckers. You give it the measurements of your rig/RV and it watches for low bridges and bad roads.

  2. Barbara Palmer on January 3rd, 2011 6:50 pm

    In April 2010, we were at the Natchez Trace Thousand Trails park just off the Natchez Trace parkway in our 37′ Newmar Dutch Star – but having read about the low bridge, and looked at the satellite view of the gravel “bypass” shown in your photo, we opted to drive around on US64, TN 240 and TN241. After looking at the bypass from our car, we were glad we hadn’t tried go under the bridge, as the drop off from the road was considerable, as was the step back up onto the road on the other side!

  3. catchesthewind on January 3rd, 2011 7:14 pm

    As Barbara Palmer states so well laptops are nice but nothing beats a feet on the ground look with your eyes recon. My 38ft Winebago would have never made that by-pass. Hey Santa, I want a Garmin 465T.

  4. Dennis on January 3rd, 2011 8:00 pm

    If you have an iPhone there is an app called Low Clearance by that will give you this information. It’s cost, only 99 cents.

  5. GlenO on January 3rd, 2011 9:56 pm

    I have read reviews about the Garmin 465T trucker model that advised it put some truckers into some bad overhead situations. Not sure anything is as good as simply the eyeball. I was going to get the 465T just for the height issue but due to its cost simply went with a Nuvi 1450LMT to get the 5″ screen and lifetime map updates and figured I could keep the ole eye watch. Maybe it will work out!!!

  6. Ken Wiseman on January 4th, 2011 7:26 pm

    You might also want to mention that also offers POI files for most GPS units. These can be easily upload into any brand of GPS and will alert you when you are close to a low bridge. They are having some discounted pricing at this time so we featured this product on our most recent podcast. It gave us an alarm (although unwarranted) just today, so I guess the POI file is working. Now if only they would include gas station overhangs. . . .

  7. Fred Brandeberry on January 6th, 2011 1:36 pm

    Hi Guys & Gals:
    Our small town of Macon, MO has a bypass with a low hanging bridge that has claimed many an air conditioner.

    Watch those bypasses, the signs are not always correct due to recent paving. A layer of asphalt or concrete can lessen the height of the bridge.

    Happy camping,
    Fred b.

  8. Matt on February 7th, 2011 9:56 pm

    Dont believe the signs on the overpasses… if the road was milled or repaved, the signs never change… but the height of the road for sure has.

  9. Motorhome Guy on February 12th, 2011 3:28 pm

    In the UK some local councils have put in restricted height barriers to stop motohomes stopping over in nice spots. Seems pretty mean spirited to me. We have a few campaigns to get them removed just Google “motorhome car park height barriers uk” if you are interested.

  10. Morgan on March 4th, 2011 9:43 am

    I have seen some bad things happen to some good trucks and trailers on account of low bridges. Thanks for the heads up!

  11. 1775 on March 14th, 2011 11:38 pm

    There is a site called POI Factory that has custom POIs for various makes of GPS devices. They do have a Low Clearance POI to add to your GPS. On a Garmin you can set the GPS to alert you within a specified distance that the Low clearance is coming up on the road. This POI set has been made for truckers so the minimum height alerts are for basic 18 wheeler height.

  12. brass ball valve on March 17th, 2011 2:59 am

    The car very handsome also need to pay attention to safety

  13. Ernest Augustine on March 21st, 2011 5:09 pm

    I just read this article today, 3/21/11, went to and with a special discount it is onl $9.97 per year to subscribe. Seeing as I have been wanting to get a Garmin 465T for several years but couldn’t see the expense of nearly $500 for it! This is supposed to have more than just major highways listed, so it is really a steal right now! The website doesn’t say how long the discount will be offered! Better check it out soon!

  14. Rich D. on April 13th, 2011 11:38 am

    Whenever I see a clearance sign indicating anything even close to my 12′ 6″ height on a secondary road I look to see if the sign looks older than the pavement! How many roads get several inches of added blacktop and the sign does not get changed?

  15. Trucks for sale on May 11th, 2011 6:07 am

    I read this article, and seen some truckers into some bad overhead situations on low bridges. Thanks for sharing this.

  16. William Weed on August 28th, 2011 3:35 pm

    Was glad to read about this topic. We have just begun traveling around the country. however, my eye has caught some low areas to be cautious about, but non gave us a real problem. Apparently there is more to worry about than I thought. thank you for the heads up and the info to add to our gps.

  17. trailers for sale melbourne   on December 9th, 2011 4:23 am

    great way to represent the services and features of motor house or warehouse. it’s clearance are perfect so people can think about it.

  18. Dave on December 23rd, 2011 9:35 pm

    Been there done that with a big truck. A cop (no less) gave me directions to the G.E. plant in Ft. Wayne, Indiana and sent me down a street that ultimately led into a 12′ 6″ underpass. Try that with a 53′ trailer and long wheel base tractor in a residential neighborhood. Took me way too long to navigate out of that predicament. That was back before GPS units came out, wish I had been fortunate enough to have had that technology back then.

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