A man from Canada earlier this month became the 15th truck driver to crash since 2015 while attempting to go under the bridge on West Central Avenue in Delaware.

With a long-discussed fix moving forward, Delaware officials hope to reduce the number of drivers who will ever feel like he did that day.

The notorious "can-opener" bridge claimed its latest victim shortly before noon March 5. The eastbound driver told officers he missed signs warning about the 12-foot-7-inch clearance of the bridge, which carries railroad tracks over West Central, aka state Route 37, just west of Euclid Avenue.

Delaware police Capt. Adam Moore said the severity of the latest crash at the overpass led to several hours of traffic restrictions on the route.

"He went through (the bridge) enough that it actually collapsed his trailer," he said.

While preventing all crashes at the low bridge may be impossible, city officials hope this year to complete a project aimed at reducing the number of can-opener victims.

The Ohio Department of Transportation in 2015 awarded a $215,000 grant to the city to install a futuristic warning system on both sides of the bridge.

The system would use lasers to determine if vehicles can fit under the bridge. If a truck is too tall, an electronic sign well ahead of the span will flash a message letting drivers know they should turn to avoid it.

City spokesman Lee Yoakum said via email the city initially hoped the system would be in place in 2017, but bids submitted by contractors aiming to undertake the project came in well above the amount of the grant.

City and ODOT officials agreed after no bids came in under $500,000 to purchase the necessary equipment directly and have city and state workers complete installation in order to meet the initial budget of $215,000.

Installation of the system could be completed by late spring or early summer barring additional delays.

The city estimates the project could reduce by 65 percent the number of crashes and requests by truck drivers for assistance in turning to avoid the bridge.

Projects to solve the problem once and for all by lowering the roadway or raising the bridge likely would cost millions of dollars more than the warning system and lead to lengthy closures on the route, city officials said.

Moore said officers in the department are excited about any effort to reduce the number of crashes at the bridge, including the warning system.

"They would definitely be in favor of that," he said.

Moore said a number of factors, from the severity of each crash to what kind of cargo the truck contained, determine how many city employees respond and how long it takes them to get the road fully open after a can-opener incident.

He said one officer might be able to resolve the situation if a truck stops short of the bridge and the driver needs assistance turning around. If a truck is disabled after a crash or debris is spread widely over the area, multiple officers and public-works employees might be called to respond.

In the past, drivers have spilled eggs, popcorn kernels and other cargo after making contact with the bridge.

The city fines drivers $750 for ignoring signs about the bridge's low clearance if they require assistance to turn from Delaware police. Drivers who hit the span are charged $1,000.

tgallick@thisweeknews.com

@twgallick