As Boston’s infamous Sept. 1 move-in day inches closer, college students return to their classes, and unwanted furniture piles up on the streets of Allston, there’s another sight that often signals the beginning of fall: a moving truck jammed under a Storrow Drive overpass.
If you’re new to the city, or you’re unfamiliar with the “Storrowed” phenomenon, consider this Urban Dictionary definition a good primer: “Putting a 12’6″ truck under a 10’6″ bridge. Common in Boston MA.”
Storrow Drive, the scenic roadway that parallels the Charles River, has notoriously low overpasses, which means you cannot drive a large moving truck down it without getting the top of the truck ripped off like a can of sardines.
“College students: When we say we hope your school year starts with a bang, we don’t mean your truck’s roof hitting the bottom of a bridge,” Massachusetts State Police Col. Kerry Gilpin said in a statement this week. “So please play it smart on move-in day, pay attention to the maximum height signs, and have a great semester.”
It’s quite common. The Boston Globe reported at least four trucks got “Storrowed” between September 2017 and August 2018.
There’s plenty of evidence from over the years:
So, what can you do? Consider this your guide to a safe, Storrowing-free move-in experience:
It’s not just Storrow Drive.
Storrow Drive cannot handle moving trucks — and city officials and authorities want you to know it.
“Repeat after us: You cannot drive a moving truck on Storrow Drive. You cannot drive a moving truck on Storrow Drive. You cannot drive a moving truck on Storrow Drive,” the City of Boston recently wrote on Twitter.
It’s also worth mentioning that Soldiers Field Road, which becomes Storrow Drive at the Boston University Bridge, and Memorial Drive, just across the river in Cambridge, also have low-clearances along the roadway. It’s probably best to avoid them, too.
Know the height of your truck (and your route).
It’s easy to forget some details amid the chaos of moving day, but remembering the height of your truck is key to a hassle-free trip.
Trucks under 10-feet tall are generally safe on Storrow Drive, but there are exceptions. If you’re behind the wheel of something larger, or if you have your doubts, it’s best to stay away.
The U-Haul website puts it another way: If you don’t know the overhead clearance of a bridge or structure, “DO NOT GUESS.”
To be fair, GPS systems do not know exactly what kind of vehicle you’re driving when you search for directions. Keep that in mind when your phone shows that the best route is right along the Charles River. The quickest way may not be the safest one.
Look for the signs.
State officials are adding more signs at the entry ramps indicating the low-clearances ahead, according to a press release.
“The roads along the Charles River are a vital access point for the hundreds of thousands of students and residents returning to the Greater Boston area within the next few weeks,” Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Leo Roy said in a statement. “While heading to college is an exciting time of year, we are urging all drivers to heed posted height restrictions to ensure a safe and successful transition back to school.”
Department of Conservation and Recreation officials said they’ve also reached out to GPS companies, colleges, universities, and truck rental companies to spread the word.
There are plenty of other ways to get around Boston.
Boston and Cambridge, with their labyrinth of small streets, have numerous alternatives to Storrow Drive, Memorial Drive, and Soldiers Field Road.
As NECN recommended last year, popular options include Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street, and the MassPike, depending on where you need to go.
And once you get there, remember that there are quite a few street and parking restrictions in place during the hectic move-in period, so it doesn’t hurt to check the city’s online listing beforehand.