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Bay View's 'KK Can Opener' May Not Be Eating Semi-Trucks For Much Longer

One of two bridges on Kinnikinnic Avenue in Bayview that have been named the KK Can Opener after numerous semi-trucks have had the tops of the truck scrapped off by the bridge.
Matt Wild
Milwaukee Record
One of two bridges on Kinnickinnic Avenue in Bay View that have been named the KK Can Opener after numerous semi-trucks have had the tops of the truck scraped off by the bridge.

Near the banks of the Kinnickinnic River in Bay View, there are two Canadian Pacific Railway bridges that cross over Kinnickinnic Avenue. But these bridges are more well known for what fails to make it under, than what goes over.

Lovingly named the "KK Can Opener," this stretch of road in Bay View has become infamous for getting semi-trucks stuck underneath the 12-feet and 9-inch-tall bridges.

Matt Wild has written about the phenomenon for the Milwaukee Record several times over the past two years. “If you just mention the words 'KK Can Opener,' eyes will light up. People will go like, ‘Oh, I know exactly what you’re talking about,'” he says.

Part of the mythology of these bridges, Wild explains, is the Facebook page that has brought the KK Can Opener to life as a monster that can’t wait to consume trucks that dare try to pass.

“I don’t know who runs it, god bless them who’s ever doing that, but it kinda imagines these bridges as this conscious being that is literally eating these trucks for lunch, it’s just eating these things, it can’t wait to open its giant gaping maw and shave off the top of these trucks as they unwittingly pass underneath these bridges,” he says.

Wild has dug up videos that document the destruction all the way back to 2007. But the city throughout the years couldn’t find a solution for these bridges ,as they are owned by the Canadian Pacific Railway and can’t easily be moved.

Railroad bridge hit twice in less than a week in Walker's Point

But now, as a part of the effort to build the Komatsu Mining South Harbor Campus, the state Department of Transportation will pay to lower Kinnickinnic Avenue so that trucks can easily fit underneath at least one of the bridges.

As an appreciator of eccentric Milwaukee culture, Wild says it’s a little sad that this odd phenomenon will be lost but exciting that trucks won’t have to worry about being consumed by the KK Can Opener.

“Even the KK Can Opener itself, via its Facebook page, has kinda weighed in and had a recent post a few weeks ago saying, ‘So looks like Komatsu and the DOT is gonna put me on a diet. Hopefully I'll get a few more big meals. And I'll always be here, I've welcomed visitors to Bay View, and residents home for more than 100 years. I'm not going anywhere, just not going to eat as much. Thanks to everyone concerned about me,'” he says.

Joy is a WUWM host and producer for Lake Effect.
From 2020 to 2021, Jack was WUWM's digital intern and then digital producer.