Channel 19

Todd Dills

Roundup: I-5 bridge collapse weighing heavy, operators flying the flag

| May 28, 2013
Many of the same issues are in the political foreground today around highway regulation and funding -- the use of tolls v. fuel taxes, whether to increase or otherwise further limit truck weight -- as in 2007 when the Minneapolis I-35W collapse led a discussion of funding issues I wrote for Truckers News.

Many of the same issues are in the political foreground today around highway regulation and funding — the use of tolls v. fuel taxes, whether to increase or otherwise further limit truck weight — as in 2007 when the Minneapolis I-35W collapse led a discussion of funding issues I wrote for Truckers News.

Back in 2007 when the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis collapsed, there was just as today a distinct lobbying effort toward allowance for higher weight limits on the National Highway System. The lobby in the years since has had a bill allowing states to boost weight limits to 97,000 lbs. nearly perpetually in process in the U.S. Congress (and perpetually opposed by OOIDA) — this session’s version we recently reported on here, introduced by Rep. Mike Michaud in the House under the Safe and Efficient Transportation Act name back last February. The bill, as with many numerous others that have preceded it, would legalize 97,000 lbs. in tractor-trailer combos provided there’s an extra axle on the trailer to reduce axle-group weights. OOIDA has its own favored weight legislation, which I wrote about in this post.

Truck weight had more or less nothing to do with the critical cause of the Minneapolis collapse back in 2007; initial reports indicate that could be likewise in the I-5 collapse (though the NTSB investigation will no doubt continue for some time), with height of the drilling module housing being hauled by Canada-based Mullen Trucking being the primary culprit for investigation (likewise processes of the state agency that issued the permit for the route and height and potential inattention of either the driver or the pilot car escort, or both). In both Minneapolis and I-5 cases, though, as I recall from prior reporting and recent commentary, it didn’t take long for opponents of the truck-weight measure to chime in. The general tenor of the commentary has weighed heavily on my deja-vu scale.

As wrote Scott Grafton within an hour of Overdrive‘s posting of news on the collapse on its Facebook page, “And people are pushing for longer, heavier trucks…”

In Grafton’s defense, this was before everything that was known about the likely cause of the collapse, but it points to the nimble moves, connections made by the contemporary political mind, where there’s seemingly always a way to make a detail or event mean whatever you want it to mean.

Under our news of the collapse, as drivers discussed the particulars of the accident and some debated just who to blame, a reader posting as “It Could Have Been You” had this to say:

Just like most incidents out here on the road: Too many people jump to conclusions prior to hearing the real story.

The question that lingers: How would those whom automatically jump to these conclusions feel if it were them that were the driver?

I personally would want the truth to be made known based upon the facts.

How easy is it to sit behind a computer screen or microphone making statements just merely to be heard?

There is an old saying: It is an empty wagon that makes the most noise.

All the same, I don’t imagine the fact of the collapse will do anything to help the cause of 97,000-lb. trucks. Where do you stand on the issue?

Patriotic challenge
Charles Linde put this thought out this weekend via our Facebook page ahead of the Memorial Day holiday: “I’d like to put a challenge out to all drivers,” he said, “to fly their flags to support our troops and vets. Who will join me?”

He shared this shot of his own rig:

Charles Linde's truck flies the flagAnybody else routinely flying their flag this way?

  • Rich

    hi I live just miles from the bridge and first there are no restriction on that bridge nor are there any height signs to worn of dangers. The escort having a height pole at the height of the load didn’t get any detection of a low point on the bridge, as I have been told by a person involved with bridge engineering is that, that type of bridge is at risk if damaged in anyway. The uprights are of up most importance to the integrity of the bridge. Also (hear say) there was a truck that decided to pass the oversize as they approached the bridge (were is he in this investigation? One other point to be made what was the score card rating for that bridge in the national safe ratings of the interstate systems?

  • fable raye

    The truck driver hit the bridge, over size load, how come no one else with an over size load hasn’t hit that bridge since 1955 when the bridge was built?

  • mousekiller

    First let me say I am offended by Charles Linde. I applaud is patriotism but not his lack of knowing the flag code. You NEVER EVER fly the flag a the rear of any vehicle. NEVER. It is never to touch anything but the staff it is fastened to. Not the roof, not the back of the cab. NOTHING. Display8ing this puublicly is an affront to every veteran and service member. Charles, Do not display that flag improperly. Fix it. You are offending true patriots and Americans with your lack of flag etiquette in displaying the American flag like this.

  • Yellow Duck

    I flew 2 flags in front off my mirrors on the hood since 09/11/00,it was for all fallen ,an all falled in military,police, I never was pulled over, all law enforcement thank me for showing respect………………I drove for Landstar/Ranger till 2010,,now retired

  • bigred

    All those old bridges in Oregon and Washington are faulty. Don`t blame this on the truck, blame it on the state. All you gotta do is drive over those ! 5 bridges in both states and you weee what I mean..

  • Todd Dills

    Gordon, I see what you mean, but it may well be trick of the perspective — i.e. it may not actually touch the reefer, eh (though it would touch the fairing, so you’re definitely right there).

  • TAT

    Exactly! I’m happy that someone else realizes that blindly doing what seems to be right isn’t necessarily correct. I’ve pointed this out before, and have been ROUNDLY chastised for it. However, if everyone kept in mind that they shouldn’t blindly follow what seems to be right in ALL aspects of life, we’d all be better off. Have a nice day.

  • Rich

    A little about heavier trucks in Washington State. The weight limit in this state is 105,500 on 8 axles in 75′ with six axles we are allowed 86,000 in Washington other states have much higher weight limits then Washington state ,just a few Montana, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, and Michigan just to name a few, are they having problems with weight and roads? I’ve trucked in all 48 states and I like my state but we have some of the worst roads in the nation here in Washington, and if Bridges fall into that same statement so be it

  • Isabel Lopez

    it wasn t hes lucky day could had ben any other driver with a heavy load

  • Zachary Bell

    1. Security tapes obtained from an RV dealer by KING-TV 5 don’t lie. They clearly show both the passing truck and the bridge strike. The width of the shoulder is one of the issues being investigated.

    2. Height poles are useless in detecting bridges with a clearance that is lower on 1 side. A clearance sign would have helped the driver ID the hazard. A good example of such a scenario is I-35 through downtown Austin, Texas, where the center of the underpasses on the lower deck are 14′ and the sides are 13’3″.

    3. The score of the bridge was 47 due to obsolescence (the bridge was probably designed for fewer cars per day, did NOT have a wide shoulder, and had non-redundant structural components). There are bridges in Central Illinois that are in similar condition (Illinois Highway 116 across the Illinois River in Peoria, IL, which needs resurfacing and has no shoulder).

    4.Adjusting the weight limit has no effect on the bridge, but allowing an oversize truck on the bridge poses unique issues due to it’s height and width. The pilot car’s driver should have known the bridge’s limits PRIOR to allowing the driver to cross it. The State DOT could have helped by posting the clearance.

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