Repairs to close 2 lanes of I-695

Work to be done tonight on bridge hit by truck Tuesday

June 12, 1999|By Lynn Anderson | Lynn Anderson,SUN STAFF

Two lanes of the Baltimore Beltway in Arbutus will be closed late tonight so that crews can repair and straighten one of the bridges smacked by a truck and its oversized load in the freak accident that crushed three cars on the road this week.

The repair work on the I-695 bridge at Westland Boulevard is to last from 8 p.m. today until 10 a.m. Sunday.

The bridge was inspected shortly after the collision and deemed safe, but structural engineers found that one of 10 beams on the span was bent and out of alignment. Crews will use blowtorches to heat the beam so that it can be straightened.

Inner-loop traffic will be restricted to two lanes between U.S. 1 and the Westland Boulevard bridge, said State Highway Administration spokeswoman Valerie Burnette Edgar.

Electronic signs will warn motorists of the lane closings, she said.

Tuesday's accident caused a pedestrian walkway to fall onto the Beltway, striking the vehicles. Officials determined that a poorly loaded 20-ton excavator hit the walkway first and then the bridge.

The driver of the truck, Paul McIntosh of Brussels, Ontario, was questioned by authorities and released. No charges have been filed. Police theorize that McIntosh might have been fatigued after too much time on the road. His log book, which lists hours of travel and rest, might have been doctored, police say.

The accident, which snarled rush-hour traffic for hours, killed motorist Robert Norman Taylor of Northwest Baltimore. His companion and two other women were injured.

The women remained hospitalized yesterday at Maryland Shock Trauma Center. Regina Lee Brehon, who lived with Taylor, was reported in serious but stable condition. Elizabeth Freeman was in critical but stable condition, and Henri Patrice McQueen Williams was in fair condition.

After three days of investigation, officials with the National Transportation Safety Board and the Maryland State Police have released McIntosh's truck trailer and the excavator but maintain control of the truck cab.

Attention on shocks

Experts are examining the shocks on the truck to determine why they were disconnected, said NTSB spokesman Terry Williams. It is not known whether the shocks were not working properly or whether they broke on impact with the bridges.

Faulty shocks could have contributed to a shift in the load, causing the arm of the excavator to move upward, officials said.

The truck, trailer and earth-moving equipment are parked at Sullivan's Garage on Golden Ring Road in eastern Baltimore County. The garage's owner, Wayne Sullivan, said he expects the vehicles to be retrieved Tuesday.

Sullivan said minor repairs to the truck's fenders should be completed by then.

He said the excavator will be loaded onto another truck and driven to its destination in Ontario. The truck involved in the accident also will be driven to Canada, he said.

Sullivan, whose garage serves as an impound lot for the Maryland State Police and Baltimore County police, said he had not inspected the vehicle or talked to the driver or the company's owner.

"They aren't talking to anybody but police and their lawyers," Sullivan said.

Brian Goodman, a local attorney hired by McIntosh's employer, TTK of London, Ontario, said the company's owner had hired a second attorney to handle any criminal charges.

He declined to comment further.

Lighting up the night

Activity at the Westland Boulevard bridge could light up the night sky.

Workers will use large blowtorches to heat up the bridge's outside steel beam, one of 10 that support it, said Edgar. Once heated, the steel will be malleable, and workers will use large prongs and hammers to reshape and align the beam.

"If the beam was deemed irreparable, we would just pull it out," Edgar said. During their inspection Tuesday, SHA engineers determined that the span could be repaired, she said.

Workers will also replace three steel cross braces, Edgar said.

Pub Date: 6/12/99

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