A report released this week by federal transportation investigators says steel straps holding electrical conduits to the ceiling of a Pennsylvania Turnpike tunnel had corroded before a portion of conduit fell, killing a truck driver in February.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued a preliminary report on the Feb. 21 accident inside the Lehigh Tunnel that killed 70-year-old Howard Sexton III. The large pipe fell from the ceiling of the tunnel, which is located about 70 miles north of Philadelphia, and crashed through the windshield of Sexton’s truck.
The NTSB’s report says a 2016 inspection found the corrosion, and the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission was in the process of awarding a contract to make repairs when the accident happened. According to the report, the contract specifies that the conduit will be moved from directly above the travel lanes to the outside edges of the tunnel. The work is expected to be completed by October.
The report notes NTSB plans to identify a probable cause in its final report. It will likely make safety recommendations to prevent similar crashes.