Fatal truck crash causes I-80 detour
Crash Site on I-80
Some of the wreckage and damage to the I-80 westbound bridge near Lyman as a result of the crash. WYDOT photo.
Bridge damage, traffic detour at Lyman Interchange
by Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT)
March 27, 2007
A fatal truck crash and fire at the Bridger Valley Interchange east of Lyman early Tuesday (March 27) badly damaged the bridge carrying westbound traffic on I-80, forcing WYDOT to detour westbound traffic around the bridge using the exit and entrance ramps.
The I-80 Business Loop that crosses under the bridge at the interchange also was closed due to falling concrete, and it will remain closed until a bridge inspection team can assess the safety of the structure.
A WYDOT bridge inspector and materials engineer were expected to arrive at the scene Tuesday to assess the structure's condition and begin determining whether the bridge can be repaired or will have to be replaced.
The damage occurred after a westbound truck owned by Rocky Mountain Classic Landscaping of Commerce City, Colo., failed to make a slight curve before the interchange. Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Tom Stoker said the truck went off the left side of the road, traveled about 1,000 feet down the median, vaulted into the air and hit a bridge support.
The truck caught fire and both the tractor and trailer were consumed by the flames. The driver was unable to escape and was dead at the scene.
Heat from the flames damaged some of the bridges concrete support columns and girders, forcing its closure.
"It looks like the fire heated up the reinforcing steel which caused the concrete to pop off," said Jim Montuoro, WYDOT's maintenance engineer for southwest Wyoming. Extreme heat crystalizes concrete, causing it to lose strength and crumble, said Chief Engineer Del McOmie.
Westbound traffic was continuing to move well on the detour around the bridge, Montuoro said, but the 40 mph speed limit in effect on the ramps could result in some slight delays during peak traffic periods.
The department plans to award an emergency contract to build crossovers to divert westbound traffic into one of the eastbound I-80 lanes, so traffic can continue to move in both directions when repairs or reconstruction begins on the bridge.
District Engineer John Eddins said the department's goal is to have the crossovers built and traffic diverted within two weeks, but how long the process takes will depend on the availability of contractors and asphalt and weather conditions in the area.
Westbound I-80 traffic can still get to Lyman by continuing down I-80 for about six miles after the detour and exiting at the North Lyman Interchange.
Eastbound traffic was not affected by the crash and can still get to Lyman by exiting at the Bridger Valley Interchange.