I-45 at Airline reopens after bizarre big rig wreck

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by KHOU.com staff & Kevin Reece / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on August 9, 2011 at 5:54 PM

Updated Wednesday, Aug 10 at 11:03 AM

HOUSTON – A stretch of Interstate 45 in Houston has reopened after being closed for hours following a bizarre wreck that left part of a gravel truck teetering against an overhead sign.

All main lanes of Interstate 45 North at Airline were shut down for several hours after the accident that created a rush hour nightmare. 

Air 11 video showed the gravel truck's trailer leaning against the overhead beam that holds up the Airline exit sign. The cab of the big rig separated from the trailer and came to a stop ahead. Severed lines spread hydraulic fluid all over the freeway.

The driver said the dump truck’s trailer began to rise as he drove down the freeway and he didn’t notice until about 5:30 p.m. when it slammed into the freeway sign overhead.

No one was hurt. 

Traffic was backed up for miles after the wreck. Drivers in the lanes behind the truck were not allowed to exit. TxDOT did not want to take any chances because they did not know if the exit sign was stable.

Many of the drivers who were stuck in the traffic mess couldn’t believe their eyes.

"Wow, that's wild, I can't believe it,” said Ronald Green. “I don't know how he did it, but he did it."

Isaiah Anderson, another witness, said he used to drive a rig like the one in the wreck and said he knows what happened. He said the power takeoff switch that distributes or cuts off power to the hydraulic lift either malfunctioned or the driver forgot to turn it off.

"You go the engage and you got the disengage, so evidently it was engaged, but it was still up when he drove off [he] and probably wasn't paying attention," Anderson said.

The trailer was hauled away from the overhead beam around 9 p.m. Tuesday.
 
The entire structure that holds the exit sign was removed Tuesday night and all lanes reopened early Wednesday morning. 

The Houston Police Department Truck Enforcement division is investigating. The driver could be held responsible for the cost of repairs to the freeway.   

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