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I-275 beam bashed, forcing detour

By MICHAEL A. MOHAMMED
Published January 18, 2007


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TAMPA - Workers closed a blocklong stretch of E Columbus Drive after a recycling truck's lift arm gouged a hole in a concrete beam supporting a Interstate 275 overpass Wednesday, according to police.

The block of Columbus Drive between N Elmore and N Taliaferro avenues will remain closed about three weeks, according to Florida Transportation Department engineer Pepe Garcia.

Until the repairs are done, drivers on Columbus must detour to E Floribraska Avenue. The shoulder lane on northbound I-275 above the damage also will be closed during the repairs.

Some drivers grumbled about the roughly half-mile detour.

Columbus "is one of our main arteries," said Joseph Gonzalez, owner of Henry Gonzalez Plumbing of 2119 W Columbus Drive. He oversees about 30 trucks affected.

"More gas, more fuel, less productive time," Gonzalez said.

Though these types of accidents happen "a few times a year," they don't often do this much damage, Garcia said.

"It was a pretty massive hit," Garcia added, watching a contractor in a lift bucket pull chunks of shattered concrete from the twisted rebar beneath the overpass.

He estimated it will cost $200,000 to demolish and replace the concrete brace damaged by the impact.

Neither the city or state will have to pay for the repairs, Garcia said. A department contract with an "asset management contractor," Infrastructure Corporation of America, stipulates that the contractor must repair damage at no extra cost. However, the contractor may seek damages from the truck's insurance company, he said.

The truck's driver, Gary Davis, forgot to lower the vehicle's trash bin-lifting arm when leaving a pickup site, police spokeswoman Lisa Parashis said.

Tampa police charged Davis with reckless driving, Parashis said.

The truck is registered to Trademark Metals Recycling of 100 S Ashley Drive.

Michael A. Mohammed can be reached at mmohammed@sptimes.com or 813 226-3404.

[Last modified January 18, 2007, 01:07:00]


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