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‘Illegal, over-height semi’ struck Turner Turnpike bridge, causing severe damage

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The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (OTA) says that a Turner Turnpike bridge sustained severe damage after it was struck by a too-tall truck load on Wednesday night.

Officials say that the bridge strike occurred late on Wednesday, November 8, on the westbound I-44-Turner Turnpike.

“Oklahoma Turnpike Authority engineers said damage done by an illegal, over-height semi-tractor trailer to the Stroud bridge over the westbound I-44-Turner Turnpike lanes late Wednesday night is more severe than any of them have seen in their transportation careers,” the OTA said in a news release.

“The bridge has a more than 15-foot vertical clearance above the Turner Turnpike and serves as the westbound on- and off-ramp (mm 179) to SH-99 in Stroud. According to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol, the load carried by the semi-tractor trailer was above 15-feet in height and struck the bridge with such force that it dislodged a bridge beam as well as caused damage to the bridge deck and parapet wall above. As the bridge beam fell to the ground, it impacted a second semi truck following the first truck, causing severe damage to the vehicle,” the OTA said.

“It’s unbelievable that this crash did not result in a fatality or serious injuries,” said OTA Deputy Director Joe Echelle. “We are so grateful that the driver of the second vehicle, who was at the wrong place at the wrong time, walked away from this incident. This bridge damage is severe and unlike any I’ve seen in my more than 20-year career in transportation.”

Officials were able to reopen all lanes of westbound I-44/Turner Turnpike as of Thursday morning. The westbound Turner Turnpike off-ramp to SH-99 in Stroud is closed until repairs are completed.

“We are continuing to see damage to our state transportation infrastructure from illegal, over-height semi-trucks. This is a critical issue that we are calling on those in the trucking industry to address,” Secretary of Transportation and OTA Executive Director Tim Gatz said. “While both the OTA and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation are doing their part by reconstructing bridges to 17-foot vertical clearance as funds allow, it still remains law in Oklahoma that trucks should not be over 14-feet in height to safely navigate the state highway and turnpike system. We implore truck drivers to follow all Oklahoma laws and work with our Size and Weights permitting office to ensure that all travelers are safe on our roadways and that our infrastructure remains undamaged by these careless acts.”

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