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The height of stupidity

The city says that the clearance on the Q train overpass on Avenue M is just under 12 feet, but our intern Alfred told us it’s actually 13 feet at its lowest point. For the record, Alfred is 5-foot-6.
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Ever hear of a tape measure?

The city can’t figure out how high an Avenue M overpass is off the ground, and residents say its confusing warnings — which alert truckers to two different heights on either side of the bridge — are causing cargo carriers to get wedged beneath it on a regular basis.

There are five different signs warning that the clearance for the B and Q train overpass on Avenue M between E. 15th Street and Buckingham Road is between 11-feet-11 and 12-feet-1, and residents think the two-inch difference is baffling to drivers that regularly get crammed beneath it.

“Almost once a week someone gets stuck,” said a worker at the bagel shop outside the subway station. “I see it all the time.”

The latest wedgie occurred last week when a Post Office truck got jammed in and stayed stuck for more than two hours, said Sunny Joshi, who works at a newsstand under the tracks.

For the record, our independent measurement, taken with a tape measure by our trusty intern, puts the height of the overpass at 13 feet at its lowest point.

But the city hasn’t figured that out.

Here’s a breakdown of the differences:

Ocean Avenue bound:

• Avenue M between East 14th and 15th streets: 12-feet-1

• On the overpass: 11-feet-11

Ocean Parkway bound:

• Avenue M on the corner of East 17th Street: 12-feet-0

• Avenue M on the corner of East 16th Street: 11-feet-11

• On the overpass: 12-feet-1

A spokeswoman for the MTA said that it was only responsible for the sign on the overpass itself, and the agency normally gets the measurements it puts on its signs from the city.

Of course, that doesn’t explain how both sides of the bridge have a different clearance.

The Department of Transportation did not respond to multiple queries about its differing signs, including a reporter’s e-mail with photos.

Posted clearance space is routinely about a foot lower than the actual height, experts say, to ensure daring drivers don’t try to cut things too close.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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