By Keith Gushard
SPRINGFIELD TOWNSHIP, Erie County —
This morning engineers are assessing a damaged bridge to see when the eastbound lanes of Interstate 90 may be able to reopen, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation.
A portion of the bridge, which carries Pond Road over the interstate 90 in Springfield Township in western Erie County, was damaged by an oversized shipping container on a tractor-trailer truck at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, according to Pennsylvania State Police at Girard. The truck was traveling east and the oversized load struck the Pond Road bridge, causing major damage, according to state police. The damage was not reported by the truck driver; it was reported by a passerby on Thursday.
Because of the damaged bridge the nearby city of Conneaut, Ohio, is experiencing lengthy traffic tie-ups due to the bridge damage as eastbound traffic on Interstate 90 still is being rerouted through that community.
“The damaged beam has been removed, but they are doing clean up work,” Jim Carroll, PennDOT spokesman said this morning. “We hope to reopen the eastbound lanes some time today.”
The interstate detour will remain in place until the clean up work is done and engineers determine the area is safe for traffic, but the Pond Road bridge will be closed indefinitely, Carroll said. He said he expects to have additional information available later today.
In the meantime, eastbound traffic on Interstate 90 is being detoured around the damaged bridge. Eastbound interstate traffic is being diverted off the interstate at the Conneaut, Ohio, exit. Eastbound traffic is sent off the interstate onto Ohio Route 7 at the Conneaut interchange, funneled north to U.S. Route 20 (the intersection of Main and Mill streets in downtown Conneaut) and then east on Route 20 into Pennsylvania, to Route 6N in West Springfield and then back to the interstate.
When PennDOT learned of damage to the bridge Thursday, an engineer dispatched to examine the span recommended the bridge and the eastbound lanes be closed pending a closer inspection, Carroll said.
State police have identified the alleged driver of the truck that struck the bridge as Rajiv Joshi, 43, of 21 Lynden Hill Cresent, Brantford, Ontario.
The crash has been ruled a hit-and-run crash to unattended property, according to a state police news release.
However, no charges have been filed by state police as of this morning in connection with the incident, according to staff at the office of Magisterial District Judge Christopher MacKendrick, whose has jurisdiction of Springfield Township.
Reporter Mark Todd of the Star Beacon of Ashtabula, Ohio, contributed to this story.