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2nd Truck Damages Overpass


An overpass on the Golden State Freeway in Sun Valley, which had previously been struck by an oversized truck, has been hit again by the same kind of vehicle, this time causing concrete and steel reinforcement bars to break loose and damage five vehicles and injure one driver, authorities said Thursday.

The southbound lanes of the freeway near where the Golden State and the Hollywood freeways meet were closed Wednesday and early Thursday between 8:30 p.m. and 2:30 a.m., and traffic was rerouted while crews cleared the debris. The Golden State Freeway is one of the main thoroughfares for semitrailer trucks hauling goods and produce in and out of Southern California.

The overpass had been under repair since January after it was struck a year earlier by a trailer-truck carrying a crane, a spokeswoman for the California Department of Transportation said.

Inspectors determined Thursday that the overpass, despite being hit twice, remains structurally sound, Caltrans spokeswoman Margie Tiritilli said.

"It's safe," she said. "All the reinforced steel that was hanging loose . . . has been cleared."

Wednesday night's 5.4 magnitude aftershock to the June 28 Big Bear earthquake did not damage the overpass, Tiritilli said.

"By the way it was hit, our own people feel that it could only have been an oversized vehicle to cause that much damage," she said.

California Highway Patrol Officer Frank Schulz, who responded to the incident, said he saw five steel reinforcement rods hanging down into the southbound lanes of the freeway. He said five vehicles suffered windshield damage after running into the steel rods, including a semitrailer truck driven by Dan Brown, 51, of Bakersfield. Brown's windshield shattered, sending broken glass into the truck's cabin, Schulz said.

Brown, who suffered minor cuts to the face and head and complained about neck pain, was taken to a local hospital, he said.

Tiritilli said the overpass is posted as having a 14-foot clearance and semitrailer truck drivers are legally required to keep their loads no taller than 13 feet, 5 inches.

CHP officials said they plan to investigate the incident, and if they find the truck driver responsible for the damage they may ask the district attorney to file criminal charges.

Meanwhile, the $165,000 repair project on the overpass will continue nightly from midnight to 6 a.m., Tiritilli said. It is scheduled to be completed in October.

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