Alex Badham has been in her Rust Ave, Whangārei store only since November, but when she heard a "big bang" outside she instantly knew what was happening.

''I thought 'oh no, here we go again, a truck has got stuck under the bridge','' Badham, owner of Gathered gift store, said.

And she was right. Yesterday afternoon a truck got stuck under the 3.44m-high rail overbridge on Rust Ave.

Badham said she opened Gathered in November and said yesterday was the second, ''or possibly the third'', time a vehicle had become wedged under the bridge in that time.


''I heard a big bang and thought somebody's got stuck under the bridge, again. The last time was I think in December when it was a tourist bus.''

She said the regular occurrence did not cause any disruption for her business but she was concerned about the safety aspect for pedestrians and other road users.

A United Movers truck hit the overbridge about 12.23pm. It was firmly wedged under the bridge and even letting down its tyres - which normally worked at freeing such stuck vehicles - did not work this time so a tow truck was called in to help remove it.

The driver was uninjured and a manager for United Movers, Auckland, did not want to comment on the situation.

Police were quickly at the scene and trains were stopped from going through the line. The road was also down to one lane while the truck was stuck, then closed while it was extracted.

Trucks, and also buses, hitting the rail overbridge is an ongoing problem, happening about once a year on average.

Whangārei District Council said fixing the problem will likely require a full bridge reconstruction at a cost of $20 million.

In January last year a woman was only centimetres from being crushed in her vehicle when a rubbish truck slammed into a railway overbridge, and in a similar incident in October 2017 a truck hit the bridge and rolled on to its side - narrowly missing a man.


Whangārei District Council has previously investigated installing a "low crossing barrier" on the approaches to the bridge.

It said previously that it had consulted with trucking industry groups but were advised that because many trucks have separate cabs to the body of their trucks, hitting a low crossing barrier with the body of the truck may not be heard or felt by the driver in the cab.

Flashing traffic lights and illuminated warning signs were installed instead.

Trucks having accidents on Rust Ave were not over-height vehicles but were generally standard legal height vehicles of less than 4.3m, the council said earlier.

However, with the height restriction of 3.44m posted on the numerous warning signs on the approaches to the Rust Ave bridge, the council has effectively already banned vehicles exceeding this height from using the road.