U.S. 59 North bridge hit again as repairs near completion

LUFKIN, TX -  Traffic flow is back to normal on Loop 287 North at U.S. 59 Business in Lufkin after being restricted this morning when the southbound bridge was hit yet again by a truck carrying a piece of heavy equipment.

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, the bridge was struck around 9 a.m. and suffered minor damage. The incident broke two cables and busted the concrete on one beam. Fortunately, there were no injuries or other damage from the falling debris. Workers were on top of the bridge preparing to start work for the day when the incident happened and did not witness it.

Today's incident occurs as the contractor nears completion on an emergency repair contract following a collision last month that caused some $50,000 in damages to the structure. This is the second incident since that contract was let. Repairs had been made and the contractor was preparing to add a protective coating, designed to keep the concrete from chipping during minor contact.

"A good size chunk of concrete was knocked off the beam so the contractor will have to repair that before applying the protective coating," said Kathi White, TxDOT spokesperson. "We are waiting on a bid from the contractor to determine the cost of adding this additional work to the existing contract."

TxDOT said the Lufkin Police Department is investigating the incident but at this time has not located the vehicle involved. If found they could face citations as well as the repair bill for the damage to the bridge.

"TxDOT normally bills the driver's insurance for the cost of repairs," White said. "In last month's incident, the driver was eventually stopped and given several citations by state and local law enforcement. His insurance company is also being billed for the cost of the repairs. It is quite costly and we encourage truck drivers to use caution and avoid trying to pass under structures that are too low for their loads."

White said this particular bridge is posted at 14'6'' and TxDOT does route oversized equipment around it. TxDOT district maintenance forces cleared debris from the roadway following this morning's incident while Lufkin police directed traffic.

TxDOT says the bridge is safe for motorists to use. The traveling public is urged to use caution and to obey posted warning signs in this area as well as all construction zones. Remember, traffic fines double when workers are present.