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Part of bridge needs replacing after beltway crash

Two beams on the southbound Interstate 95 bridge spanning the Baltimore Beltway will need to be replaced following Monday afternoon's crash involving an oversized piece of construction equipment.

Engineers conducted structural tests overnight and determined that two of three beams over the shoulder of the interstate were damaged by the arm of an excavator being hauled from a nearby construction site, David Buck, spokesman for the State Highway Administration, said Tuesday.

"The exterior beam is going to be replaced, probably next spring, there's no doubt about it," Buck said. "Until then, the shoulder will remain closed. The traffic is safe on 95 above the accident scene."

An adjacent beam also sustained damage and will be inspected on a regular basis to ensure its condition doesn't further deteriorate until it is replaced. A third beam that was struck was simply "scuffed" by the excavator and will not need replacing, Buck said.

When crews replace the beams, they will also repair the I-95 bridge deck.

The cost won't be known until design work is completed, but Buck said the price tag for all work, including cleanup of the accident scene and six hours of overnight structural tests, will be "thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars."

The bill will be sent to Six M Co. Inc., the construction company based in Whiteford and Delta, Pa., that owns the flatbed truck.

The bridge clearance was 16 feet, 2 inches, and vehicles carrying loads exceeding 13 feet, 6 inches are required to have a state permit.

"They didn't," Buck said of Six M.

Officials at Six M did not return a call for comment.

The excavator was being used at a Beltway construction site at Wilkens Avenue, where a bridge above the outer loop is being replaced. It is unknown whether the excavator was properly secured when it left the site or came loose. But Buck said the excavator was at least 21/2 feet above the legal height when it hit the overpass at highway speed.

Bridge debris and a chain from the flatbed struck a car driven by Rufus Charles of Randallstown. Neither he nor his wife was injured.

Charges are pending against the driver of the truck, Marvel J. Bonham, 52, of Airville, Pa., according to the Maryland State Police.

candy.thomson@baltsun.com

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