Truck slams into bridge along Bishop Ford

Northbound lanes closed all weekend
December 7, 2007 8:52:35 PM PST
The driver has been cited after a dump truck struck a support pillar at the 115th overpass on the Bishop Ford freeway, causing severe structural damage. Fire officials closed the freeway in both directions and diverted all traffic off a frontage road at 115th Street for a few hours. At 1:45 p.m., two southbound lanes reopened. Officials do not know how much longer the other lane closures will be in place. They also caution that the southbound lanes will close again when work begins to remove the dump truck wedged under the 115th Street overpass. The overpass was also closed.

The northbound lanes at 115th will be closed for the rest of the weekend.

Illinois State Police say 56-year-old Donald C. Hoth from M & J Cartage Co. in Cicero, is cited with failure to secure vehicle equipment, overheight of 14 feet 4 inches, driving too fast for conditions or failure to reduce speed to avoid accident and various code violations.

"We are obviously concerned about the safety of the structure," said Mike Claffey, Illinois Department of Transportation. Claffey said bridge experts are on their way.

"If it needs to be shored up, we'll take care of it as quickly as possible," said Claffey. "We're not going to take any chances with anyone's safety so we're shutting down the area in both directions."

Claffey suggested drivers take I-90, the Chicago Skyway or Halsted as alternatives.

"Please, we're urging everyone to stay off the Bishop Ford until further notice," said Claffey.

"There is a lot of damage on the bridge. The first girder is moved over and distorted quite heavily," said Larry Langford, Chicago Fire Department. "The truck's wheels came off and are in the middle of the freeway. We're getting our fire apparatus out of here and turning it over to I-DOT. But it's obvious the inbound side is going to be shut down for some time."

The driver of the dump truck was taken to the hospital. Two people - a man and his 11-year-old son - were in a red compact sedan that rear-ended the truck. Carlos Sinaloa and son Angel appeared to be OK. The dump truck driver is expected to recover.

The dump truck lost its load, which appears to be gravel. The crash also spilled diesel fuel, which crews will work to clean up.

Witnesses say they saw the northbound dump truck's load rising as it approached the 115th Street overpass at expressway speed. The impact bent the horizontal steel beam that supports the overpass and lifted the bridge's re-enforced concrete side panel, sending chunks of it to the pavement below.

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