Race to repair damaged I-30 overpass

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by CYNTHIA VEGA

WFAA

Posted on June 11, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 4 at 8:46 PM

Truck hits overpass

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DALLAS — Three westbound lanes of Interstate 30 have reopened at the Dolphin Road overpass Monday afternoon as engineers review options to permanently repair the bridge damaged in a fatal truck crash on Sunday afternoon.

Workers struggled to clear the scene at the site of the accident where an 18-wheeler struck the overpass, shutting down all westbound lanes of Interstate 30 from late Sunday afternoon into the morning commute Monday.

"It's clearly not safe at the moment," said Texas Department of Transportation spokesman Mark Pettit. "We have a shoring scaffold under it to hold it up and stabilize it in the interim so we can get an emergency contract activated and get that crew out there to get started on it."

Pettit said that work could be complete within two weeks, but it could also take as long as a month to make repairs on the Dolphin Road overpass, which remains closed to traffic.

The driver of the truck that apparently struck the bridge pillar at full speed — 54-year-old Juan Garza of Mission — was killed in the accident at 4:12 p.m. No other vehicles were involved. Family members told the Dallas County Sheriff's Department that Garza was headed home at the time of the accident.

On Monday afternoon, Texas Department of Transportation crews worked to set up a concrete traffic barrier in the far right lane of westbound I-30 at Dolphin Road to protect the damaged bridge. 

Late Sunday night, Pettit said the crash fractured the easternmost column of the overpass. "That has caused the structure to become unstable," he said. "The semi is basically holding the structure up until we can get emergency crews in there to shore it up."

While several lanes were expected to be cleared for traffic by about 4:30 a.m. on westbound I-30, crews at the scene were behind schedule, and it wasn't until just before 7 a.m. that the HOV lane re-opened. TxDOT planned to phase the opening of all four lanes, with the lane closest to the median opening first and then the two alongside that lane.

Overnight, TxDOT crews tried to assess the damage and worried that removing the 18-wheeler from below the bridge could possibly make the bridge topple. Two tow trucks carefully pulled the semi back away from the bridge, sending only the cab of the semi  toppling onto its side.

TxDOT employees told News 8 they were able to install another temporary support system that looks to be made of steel up against the column and underneath the overpass to stabilize the bridge for drivers now traveling underneath on I-30.

WFAA.com staff contributed to this report

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