The Department of Transportation says the driver of the semi received a citation after his truck hauling an oversized load slammed into an overpass in Eagle River, causing big traffic headaches for thousands of people using the Glenn Highway.

The devastating collision has led to a wake-up call of sorts for the state when it comes to bridges all over Alaska.

"This is a lesson learned,” Gov. Bill Walker said Friday when touring the damaged overpass. “This is an opportunity for us. We have over 800 bridges in Alaska. So, we need to make sure-- those that would interrupt traffic like this has-- we have a response plan available for each bridge… So when this comes up again we just pull out the book, here's our response plan as far as how we alternate traffic-- and if we can keep the traffic flowing."

Gov. Walker says the next step towards rectifying the situation in Eagle River is to take the girder out because there are concerns now that it could fall-- or drop concrete onto passing vehicles.

Heavy equipment is to be moved in Friday night and Saturday, with cranes used to lower the damaged piece.

"So, they're going to take that out this weekend,” Walker said. “The hope is to have this done by Sunday night-- be able to have traffic flowing without the bypass on Monday morning."

Then, a new girder will be put up, but when that will happen is unknown.

The DOT says the Eklutna bridge was struck in 2010 by a high load. The damage wasn't as bad as the damage to the South Eagle River overpass, but it took two years to replace the girder due to the competitive bid process and the fact that engineering plans had to be drawn up.

The governor talked about an expedited process for the removal of the girder this weekend.

"We didn't go out and do a 30-day RFP proposal. We brought in the people we felt could do this. Sandstrom and Son's-- I've known them since ‘64."

As far as who is responsible for this, the governor says the state will focus on fixing the problem first.

"...and fixing blame, there will be plenty of time to sort that all out."

The DOT said Friday the state didn't have to go out for bid on the girder removal because it was an emergency procurement where they can bring in a contractor for circumstances like this one.

Authorities said Friday that Sandstrom and Son's was chosen because the company worked on the Eklutna bridge, the company was available and close by.

DOT is limiting the work to just the girder removal at this time. They haven't been able to provide a cost yet of that work.

KTVA also learned Friday that the actual clearance of the overpass has been disputed. Crews measured Friday to clarify the numbers. The DOT says from the road to the bottom of the overpass, the clearance is 17.5 feet-- that's down from the initial report from DOT that indicated the clearance at 18.83 feet.  

KTVA also obtained the permit that Bighorn Enterprises received for that truck to run on the Glenn. The permit says it was allowed an overall height of up to 17 feet. The exact height of the load has not been released by DOT. 

Crews finished removing the damaged area of the overpass around 1 a.m. Sunday morning. Throughout the day, they finished removing debris from the roads. 

 
User: Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities To: link

 

By Sunday night, DOT announced on its Facebook page the southbound lanes at Eagle River are open and ready for commuters. 

Editor's Note: In an earlier version of this story, it was reported that Big Horn Enterprises was cited instead of the driver, who has not yet been identified. 

Copyright 2018 KTVA. All rights reserved. 

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