SALINA, N.Y. (NCC News) — An old local railroad bridge is now featured on t-shirts, beer koozies and countless memes.
Dozens of vehicles have struck the infamous Onondaga Lake Parkway Bridge in its 152 years of existence, leading to its nickname: the Undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the World.
“There’s not many other bridges out there that have a world championship belt,” lifelong Liverpool resident TJ Goodman said.
“We decided to just start our own website, and with all the profits going to Liverpool High School where most of us attended,” Goodman said. “And it goes to a scholarship fund for Liverpool High School.”
The gear features images of the bridge, the world championship belt and the sign indicating the bridge’s clearance height: 10’9″
The unusually low clearance has caused increasing numbers of vehicles to strike the bridge in recent years. Five trucks have already hit the bridge in 2023, including a Department of Transportation vehicle. Those numbers are up from the average of nine strikes per year between 2020 and 2022.
In 2010, a double-decker Megabus struck the bridge and four passengers died — pumping the brakes on the endless jokes about the strikes.
“People have gotten hurt there,” local sports commentator Brent Axe said. “So you want to make sure everybody’s okay. But if it’s just yet another person that screwed up, I think it’s fair game.”
Axe, whose father owned a trucking company in Central New York, says the increased use of delivery services and non-commercial GPS in trucks pulling tractor trailers may contribute to the increased strikes.
“Amazon’s got so many new drivers coming through Central New York that maybe don’t know the lore of the bridge, don’t know the rules of the road,” Axe said. “So it keeps happening again.”
Axe popularized the “Undefeated Heavyweight Champion of the World” on his Twitter account to his nearly 30,000 followers, but he says the State Department of Transportation or CSX, the railroad company which owns the bridge, must fix it.
“As much as I would miss tweeting about it and having some fun with it, it’s getting to the point where it’s like — they need to fix that,” Axe said.