An outdated bridge clearance list is being blamed for last week’s Olympic Drive overpass strike.
According to the News Tribune, the driver of the pilot car responsible for leading a truck carrying a large silo from Colorado to Belfair admits to using a bridge clearance list from 2001. The 11-year-old list made the difference of nearly 3 feet.
Since the 2001 list was produced, thicker supports were installed to the bridge, reducing the clearance.
The list from 2001 states that the Olympic Driver Overpass clearance is 18 feet, 3 inches, however, according to the Washington Department of Transportation’s updated online information, the overpass vertical clearance is now 15′ 7″.
The overpass clearance isn’t marked at the site.
“The driver of the pilot vehicle admitted to using the list from 2001,” trooper Guy Gill told the News Tribune. “If they had been using the correct information, this wouldn’t have happened.”
The bridge strike sprayed the roadway with chunks of concrete and shutdown the overpass.
The pilot car was equipped with a wire height pole that was the same height as the truck and its load. The pole did scrape the bottom of the overpass. The accident report states that the pilot car driver alerted the truck driver to switch lanes, mistakenly thinking the clearance was greater in the other lane.
“Transportation Department engineers have yet to issue a cost estimate for repairs, but an almost identical collision at the same overpass two years ago cost slightly more than $1 million. The 2½ months of construction caused significant traffic backups on state Route 16 and in Gig Harbor,” the News Tribune reported.
The Commercial Vehicles Permit Manager at the Washington Department of Transportation Jim Wright told the News Tribune that it is the trucking company’s responsibility to choose a truck-safe route.