Archive for Sunday, June 20, 1999

BACKHOE HITS RAILROAD BRIDGE

June 20, 1999

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Police gave the driver of a truck a court appearance date after a backhoe he was hauling hit a concrete bridge.

A backhoe on the back of a flatbed truck slammed into the Union Pacific Railroad bridge on North Second Street Saturday morning, showering chunks of concrete onto the pavement below.

No one was injured in the accident, but one southbound lane was closed for more than two hours.

Railroad inspectors checked the damage but determined it wasn't "an immediate threat to the integrity of the railroad bridge," according to a police report.

Trains on Saturday continued to use the bridge, directly west of the renovated Union Pacific Depot, 402 N. Second.

"It's busy all the time," Sgt. David Hubbel said.

Police said John Berg, 52, Hutchinson, was driving a tractor-trailer south under the bridge when its cargo, a backhoe, struck the north side of the bridge. The force of the collision popped the straps holding the backhoe in place, and it fell into the outside western lane, blocking traffic. The lane was blocked from 9:15 a.m. to 11:36 a.m., when members of the Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical department finished washing away hydraulic fluid from the piece of heavy machinery.

A police report didn't indicate where Berg, an employee of Borton Inc., was coming from or going to. Berg told police the height of the vehicle was checked in South Dakota, where it met requirements, but Hubbel said it didn't meet the Kansas height restriction of 14.5 feet.

Police gave Berg a notice to appear in municipal court for the height violation.

"He didn't realize it wasn't legal," Hubbel said.

Transmaster Towing removed the backhoe. Damage estimates to the vehicle and the bridge weren't available Saturday.

-- Chris Koger's phone message number is 832-7126. His e-mail address is ckoger@ljworld.com.

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