AUSTIN (KXAN) — The driver of an 18-wheeler that struck a bridge under construction Thursday along Interstate 35 in Salado is being investigated by the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
DMV officials say the driver did not have a permit for his oversized load (taller than 14 feet). A spokesperson for the DMV said it is unlikely he would have known about the bridge height or any alternate routes beyond what TxDOT marked. In a statement Thursday, TxDOT said the bridge had a vertical clearance of 14 feet 1/2 inch, but three posted signs warned drivers in advance the clearance was just 13 feet 6 inches.
The truck’s load, which included a large piece of equipment on top of a flatbed trailer, measured 14 feet 7 inches after the crash, DPS said. Authorities have not determined the height of the load prior to the crash.
The trucker was driving for Lares Trucking, based out of Crowley, Texas. A DMV spokesperson said he had a clean driving record and applied for 10 oversized permits since 2010 for loads that were overweight. Records show he had not applied for permits to carry cargo over the height limit.
TxDOT officials said Friday the bridge inspection was completed and all construction activity was back to normal on the bridge. A contractor will have to wait for replacement beams, but once they arrive, the replacement work will be woven into the construction schedule.
State guidelines say all permanent structure overpasses should have a 16 ft. clearance, but due to construction, the clearance on this bridge was lower. Once construction is completed, the road will be lowered to give the full 16 ft. clearance.
According to a TxDOT spokesperson, a truck hauling vehicles scraped the underside of the bridge at FM 2484 last week. The damage was relegated to just the haul and not the bridge itself.
Along with TxDOT, Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board are also surveying the damage.
On Thursday, a tractor trailer carrying an oversized load hit a beam of the FM 2484 overpass bridge. The impact of the truck caused several beams to become dislodged and fall onto the roadway, killing 32-year-old Clark Davis of Arlington, who was in a pickup truck. The interstate was shut down for nearly 16 hours as crews cleared the crash scene.
A decision on whether the driver will face any criminal charges will come from DPS. Once that process is complete, a DMV spokesperson said they will look into whether any administrative penalties will be levied against the driver or company.