New damage to Rodgers Theatre marquee by passing truck

Tuesday, September 12, 2023
Workers, theatre board members and the driver of a semi stand under the Rodgers Theatre marquee Tuesday morning after it was struck by a passing trailer.
DAR/Donna Farley


Just a few weeks away from the completion of exterior renovations to the marquee, Rodgers Theatre has hit — or rather been hit by — another bump in the road.

The second such accident in the past year has prompted new conversations with government officials about how to stop future incidents, according to board members.

A semi-truck scraped the newly replaced red sheet metal wrapping around the base of the iconic rounded marquee around 8 a.m. Tuesday.

The driver’s GPS had erroneously directed him to take a right on South Broadway to reach the Poplar Bluff Post Office, said Wally Duncan, president of the Rodgers board. Duncan was on scene with police, other board members, the driver, Poplar Bluff police officers and repair workers a little after 8 a.m.

“He said someone from his company would be contacting me today,” Duncan said Tuesday morning. “He was trying to get between the fire hydrant (on the opposite side of Broadway) and the theatre.”

The board will get an estimate for the new repairs and work with the company involved, Duncan said.

“The good news is we’ll be able to get it restored. It will set us back a bit but we will get it done,” he said.

Duncan believes truck damage to the marquee dates back to the 1970s, and said it could be the result of Pine Boulevard being made into a four-lane and reducing the turning radius available to trucks.

The damage from the 70s was not repaired until recently, he said.

The nose of the theatre had also gone a long time without new damage, but has seen two such accidents in the past year, Duncan explained.

Board members have reached out city and state officials to see if they can help.

Suggestions have included adding something to sidewalk area to stop trucks from making such a sharp turn, or limiting commercial truck traffic on that portion of Broadway, Duncan said.

“We think the city and state will work with us to where we can protect it as much as possible,” he said. “I think everybody wants to see that. Everybody wants to see it restored and see that it doesn’t get damaged again.”

The only repairs that had remained to the exterior of the marquee — before the most recent accident — had been some updates to the neon lighting, which were expected to be complete in the few weeks. Additional work under the marquee, in the area covering the space outside the entrance, was expected to be done in the next month.

Little damage was visible Tuesday from the truck, other than a scrape of red paint a few inches from the top of the white trailer.

A sidewalk along the building was previously extended in hopes of preventing this type of damage, officials have said previously.

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