Contact: Jodi Wheatley   Phone: (254) 867-2836

Salado Overpass Incident Serves as Safety Reminder for all I-35 Motorists

An 18-wheeler that exceeded the height limits set by the TexasDepartment of Transportation (TxDOT) attempted to travel under the new overpass being constructed at FM 2484 in Salado, March 26. When the truck's load reached the overpass, it struck the first of several concrete beams that stretched across the highway above the truck. In a matter of seconds, the first bridge beam rammed into another beam and both crashed down to the highway below, killing an unsuspecting motorist who was traveling the opposite direction.

Several other people were injured by the massive concrete beams. In all, two pickup trucks and three 18-wheelers were involved in the rare but deadly incident.

And it all could have been avoided.

  On March 26, an 18-wheeler that exceeded the height limits set by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) attempted to travel under the new overpass being constructed at FM 2484 in Salado. An unsuspecting motorist was killed by falling debris.  

Although the investigation continues, officials say the truck's load (it was hauling a cherry picker on its trailer) exceeded the maximum height limit by 7 inches.

"Any truck that exceeds 14 feet in height is required by Texas Department of Motor Vehicles to have a permit," says Public Information Officer Ken Roberts of TxDOT's Waco District. "When the permit is applied for, the truck driver is given a new route that detours it around any overpass that has a vertical clearance less than the permitted load. This truck was not permitted."

In addition to the permitting process, signs were erected well in advance of the low-clearance overpass.

"In this case, three different signs warning drivers of the approaching overpass were in place, the first one was two miles before the location. Truckers who were above the posted height limit had sufficient opportunities to exit," Roberts says.

The posted warning signs showed the approaching overpass height to be 13 feet, 6 inches. In reality, the actual height of the FM 2484 overpass was 14 feet, 1/2 inch. Roberts says it's another safeguard to have trucks that exceed the limit, or are near the limit, to detour.

  Construction crews clean up following the accident. Opening the roadway again to thru traffic while ensuring the safety of all motorists on I-35 are both top-priority.  

Safety is a top priority in TxDOT's planning, building and maintaining its transportation system. As part of the I-35 reconstruction project, the frontage roads will be widened and become one-way facilities and the new overpasses will have clearances that meet or exceed the federal standard of 16 feet.

"More than 100,000 vehicles travel I-35 each day, and one-third of those are trucks," says Roberts. "During this construction period and beyond, we urge all motorists — especially the trucks — to slow down, avoid distractions and observe warning signs. That way, we are far less likely to have problems."

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