One person is dead and at least three others are being treated for injuries after a semi-truck allegedly struck an overpass beam on Interstate 35 near Salado in Central Texas. The truck struck a beam on an overpass that is currently being constructed on FM 2484 where it crosses I-35. The accident caused concrete beams to fall onto vehicles on the highway below.
Two other semi-trucks and two pickup trucks were also involved in the accident, according to a report in the Austin American-Statesman. The accident occurred at about 11:30 on Thursday morning. The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) initially claimed that the driver of the truck had ignored warning signs about the height of the overpass under construction. A later update revealed uncertainty about whether proper signage was in place at the time of the accident.
An update on the Statesman at 3:15 revealed a confirmation by TxDOT that three signs indicating an overpass height of 13 feet 6 inches were in place in the two miles preceding the accident. The actual height of the overpass is reported to be 14 feet and one-half inch. Federal Interstate Highway safety regulations require a height of 14-16 feet for overpasses in urban areas. It is not clear what the height of the trailer was when the truck struck the overpass.
“The truck driver ignored signs that we had that would have indicated that the truck was too tall,” said Veronica Beyer, a spokeswoman for TxDOT.
Part of the $76 million construction project involves widening of all of the overpasses in the rapidly growing area. The 3.3 mile construction area has been under construction since January, 2012, and is currently behind schedule. Only 53.4 percent of the project is completed despite 88 percent of the allotted time having passed.
The City of Salado has dispatched police officers to assist traffic which is being detoured around the accident scene. Traffic on I-35 is backed up for miles in each direction as workers work on clearing the debris. It is expected the highway will be closed for around four hours.
“I’m actually right here on the highway,” said Salado City Administrator Kim Foutz. “We saw a trickle of traffic being let through southbound but it has been terminated.”
Editor’s Note: This article initially stated the truck that allegedly struck the bridge was owned by C.R. England Global Transportation. That sentence has been removed.
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.