Longview bridged closed pending inspectors report - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Longview bridged closed pending inspectors report

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GREGG COUNTY, TX (KLTV) -

A fiery crash damages an East Texas bridge and now officials wait for a damage report to see how long the bridge will be closed down.

It happened Tuesday morning at the M.L. King bridge over I-20 in Longview. Though the crash and ensuing fire were eventually cleaned up, visible damage shows on the underside of the bridge.

"The bridge deck itself has a large amount of steel underneath it and they were popping as they cooled so there was an enormous amount of heat and pressure that came off that fire. We're not going to take any chances with the public safety," says TxDOT spokesman Larry Krantz.

Public safety and whether the bridge structure has been compromised forces TxDOT to close it down.

"While being burned can't be good for the structure its not like its compromised the column. Our initial inspection after this really horrendous wreck showed that as far as the structure we've been really lucky," Krantz says.

Several hotels and businesses on the north side of the bridge could be affected by a lengthy shut down.

"Yeah , not so much for us but for the hotels. Because that gives easy access for the hotels," says area business owner Gloria Davis.

State inspectors have already been out to assess the damage to the bridge on the north side but specifically to the pillar system which suffered heavy damage from the crash and fire. It is their report to TxDOT that will determine how long the bridge will be closed. Rebar is showing from pillars and a crossbeam.

"We're hopeful we're going to get some good news from the bridge inspector before the week is up," Krantz says.

TxDOT expects the state report of damage to the bridge will be released on Thursday.

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