UPDATE: Drive BC tweeted at 5 a.m. Wednesday that the 152 Street overpass is open to southbound traffic only.
Traffic on two major South Surrey thoroughfares was rerouted for successive days this week, after a semi truck northbound on Highway 99, towing “equipment that’s used to crush cars,” struck the 152 Street overpass.
The incident – which involved what was described in a Ministry of Transportation news release as “an over-height commercial vehicle” – occurred just after 10 a.m. Monday.
As of Peace Arch News press time Tuesday, the overpass – along with one northbound lane of the highway – remained closed, and structural engineers were assessing the damage.
MoT bridge area manager Kellen Truant told PAN that three of the bridge’s girders – “the super-structure beams that carry the concrete deck” – were damaged by the impact.
While it was not the first time the overpass had been hit – a gravel truck, also northbound, impacted it six years ago – it did cause the most damage, Truant said.
In past incidents, it “looks like… small, superficial damage,” he said.
It took some time for traffic to be rerouted Monday, with vehicles seen continuing over the damaged overpass for about an hour after impact.
However, Truant said “everything was shut down” quickly.
“Safety was first and foremost,” he said.
One witness, who was at a nearby coffee shop at the time, told PAN at the scene, “It was a loud bang, like a bomb going off… just incredible.”
About four blocks north of the damaged overpass, the truck-and-trailer could be seen pulled off to the side of the highway. Debris – chunks of concrete, as well as pieces of the truck and its cargo – was also strewn along the road shortly after the impact.
Initial tweets from the ministry predicted the overpass – which is closed between 32 Avenue and Mall Access Road to South Point Exchange – would reopen by 5 a.m. Tuesday.
“With the help of structural engineers, ministry crews braced the structure in order to have one of the northbound lanes re-opened to traffic,” the release notes.
Truant said the assessment results would determine further steps, including when the overpass could be reopened.
The road closures caused much grief for drivers Monday afternoon. Northbound traffic on the highway was diverted at 16 Avenue; by noon, northbound traffic along King George Boulevard had backed up considerably, and Croydon Drive – which, for a stretch, runs parallel to Highway 99 – was also slowed by heavy traffic.
Truant confirmed that once repairs are complete, the ministry will “work with ICBC” to recoup costs of the damage. He noted the semi operator did not have a permit for the overheight vehicle.