SALADO, Tex. – An oversized tractor trailer struck a Texas bridge under construction on Interstate 35 between Waco and Austin Thursday morning, causing a structural collapse that killed at least one and injured three others.
Reports say the truck was traveling north on I-35 when it hit the overpass at FM 2484, part of a $72.6 million construction project underway by the Texas Department of Transportation. The impact caused several concrete beams to collapse and topple onto vehicles passing below the structure. Two other tractor trailers and two pickup trucks were also reportedly affected by the collapse.
According to the Statesman, the primary purpose of the construction project is to widen the heavily traveled I-35 corridor from four lanes to six. Texas transportation officials awarded the project to James Construction Group LLC, giving it 920 days to complete the overhaul. The project started in January 2012 and has used 88 percent of the time budgeted, but is little more than half completed, the Statesman reported.
It is not yet clear what company owns the truck that struck the bridge. Images of the scene show one of the partially demolished tractor trailers with a logo for C.R. England Global Transportation.
A spokeswoman for the Texas DOT initially said that “The truck driver ignored signs that would have indicated the truck was too tall” to pass underneath the bridge. A few minutes later, state transportation officials said it wasn’t clear what signage was present in the approach to the bridge that would have warned the driver. Whether there were adequate warnings for taller vehicles is one of the matters that remain under investigation.
Three people are being treated at Scott & White Memorial Hospital in Temple, Texas, for injuries that hospital officials deemed non-life-threatening. The identity and circumstances of the person who was killed remain unclear. Authorities said that additional fatalities are possible as they work to free the trapped vehicles from under the debris.