Repairs from Tudor overpass strike could take months
Thursday morning’s collision of a dump truck with the Seward Highway’s Tudor Road overpass will prevent some drivers from turning north onto the highway there for months, state transportation officials said.
At 11:17 Friday morning, Department of Transportation and Public Facilities sent a release stating all northbound lanes of the Seward Highway will be closed. Tudor Road remained open at that time.
"Bridge crews repairing the Tudor bridge have noted further damage to the the girder that was struck in the 1/3/19 dump truck crash, and must remove the beam," the notice reads.
Anchorage police reaffirmed the decision to close the highway, in a separate release, saying the roadway would be closed "indefinitely," through the weekend and early next week. Commuters are asked to use alternative north-south routes.
Shannon McCarthy, a spokeswoman for the Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, said construction crews will have to replace the girder hit by a northbound dump truck’s raised bed around midnight Thursday. Until that replacement work can be completed in spring, the bridge’s two lanes of eastbound traffic will be shifted away from its edge to use the left-turn lane which allows people to turn north onto the Seward.
Westbound traffic on Tudor won't be affected and can still turn north onto the highway.
According to McCarthy, the northbound Seward will be down to one lane under the bridge as work continues. Crews hope to clear debris and fully reopen northbound traffic within the next week.
An inspection of the bridge was conducted Thursday afternoon by a team brought in from a project in Hope. According to McCarthy, the dump truck's raised bed struck the overpass in a collision at "highway speeds." The bed separated from the truck due to the impact, but police at the scene said nobody was injured.
Comments on the department's Facebook page Thursday soon blamed the driver for the crash, which bore similarities to the "Bridgepocalypse" crash in March during which a too-tall semi load damaged the Glenn Highway's South Eagle River overpass. That collision, which led to costly repairs and massive traffic snarls, also forced crews to replace the girder struck in the crash.
"I can not believe how stupid some people are. No excuse whatsoever," one person wrote.
"How are the idiot drivers that hit the bridges NOT responsible monetarily for the fixes?" another wrote.
Authorities hadn't identified the driver or operator of the dump truck involved in the crash by Thursday afternoon, but McCarthy emphasized the expenses that those parties will face.
"These are expensive mistakes for the driver and for the company and obviously for the public because it's our infrastructure that gets damaged," McCarthy said. "The department will work to recover as much money as we possibly can."
When two commercial vehicles hit the Glenn's Eklutna overpass in 2010, both had heights greater than the overpass elevation. Ultimately, however, the state only recouped $485,000 from two insurance companies, leaving the state to pay even more – more than $500,000 in taxpayer funds.
Drivers are being asked to use alternate routes. The department will share updated information on repairs and road closures following the collision on its website.
Joe Vigil contributed information to this story.
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