I-93 Southbound Closing Overnight Ahead of Expected Full Reopening

Just two southbound lanes of Interstate 93 have been open since an over-height truck slammed into the eastbound overpass Monday, causing miles of traffic during subsequent commute hours

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All southbound traffic on Interstate 93 in Medford will be stopped at 10 p.m. Wednesday night, with two lanes reopening Thursday morning, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said.

Also Wednesday night at 9 p.m., two lanes on the northbound side of I-93 were set to close, according to transportation officials. They were expected to reopen at 5 a.m. as well.

The overnight shutdown is being done so crucial repairs can be made after an over-height truck slammed into the eastbound overpass Monday. The highway was expected to be fully reopened at some point Thursday, though with more work left to be done over the coming months.

The westbound bridge at Roosevelt Circle, the overpass where the crash took place, is expected to reopen at 5 a.m. as well. And officials reiterated Wednesday evening that all lanes of I-93 will reopen at some point Thursday.

Southbound traffic on the highway will be routed off Exit 24 and back onto the highway at Exit 23 via Roosevelt Circle.

"The eastbound rotary bridge, damaged during the incident will also be reopened, when the temporary repair work is complete, and Roosevelt Circle (Route 28) will be restored to two travel lanes with some lane restrictions until full, permanent repairs are made. These permanent repairs are expected to take several months," officials said in a release Wednesday night.

The plan was initially to reopen all southbound lanes on I-93 southbound until crews found "very, very extensive damage" to the overpass.

"We had a number of setbacks last night. As we started getting into the bridge, we found additional damage," Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said Wednesday morning. "This is very, very extensive damage. This is the worst we’ve seen."

The bridge crash caused miles of traffic during the subsequent commute.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation has been urging drivers to avoid I-93 southbound and to expect traffic delays on Route 1 south, Route 16, Route 28 and through Roosevelt Circle for the next "several months" while crews make permanent repairs.

A large wooden wall now separates drivers traveling down I-93 from the emergency bridge work. MassDOT plans to permanently rebuild the overpass on weekends and evenings to lessen the traffic impact.

Massachusetts State Police are still investigating the crash, which involved a 2013 Peterbilt 367 with an Alabama registration, owned by Dove Transportation of Lincoln, Alabama.

A 57-year-old Alabama man was driving the truck with a 54-year-old Alabama woman as a passenger, who was taken to Massachusetts General Hospital with possible minor injuries.

State police said Tuesday that the driver is being cited for operating a vehicle that was "over height" and for violating a permit issued by the Department of Transportation. Each offense carries a fine of $105, for a total of $210.

A truck driver will be fined $210 after crashing into a bridge on I-93 in Medford, leading to months of expected heavy traffic as crews repair it.

The height of the truck with its load -- a water clarifying tank used in wastewater treatment -- measured at 14 feet, 9 inches, which is 9 inches more than the truck was permitted for. Additionally, state police said the driver violated the permit for not having flag cars and for traveling on an unapproved route. I-93 was not on the truck's permitted route. MassDOT said Dove had permits for a smaller load on a different route.

The tractor-trailer -- with an "oversize load" banner and two orange flags -- was carrying a large metal piece of equipment, which had to be extricated from underneath the overpass. The structure was significantly damaged in the crash, police said, which happened around 3:20 p.m.

MassDOT officials said they are working with state police and intend to hold the trucking company legally and financially responsible for damages. The investigation will determine if the operator or company were in violation of any state laws or federal motor carrier regulations, police said.

Jamie Canada, of Dove Transportation, said she and her husband, who runs the company, spoke with the driver but do not know how the crash happened. They are waiting for the results of the investigation and said the truck was carrying an empty clarifier tank.

Emergency bridge repairs have prompted a long-term traffic issue on I-93.

An inspection Monday evening found extensive damage to an outside beam on the Roosevelt Circle Overpass over the right two I-93 southbound travel lanes. The beam will need to be removed to safely allow traffic to be fully restored underneath on I-93 southbound, the Massachusetts Department of Transportation said.

"Usually bridge strikes, the bridge is usually the winner when something hits it," MassDOT highway administrator Jonathan Gulliver said.

But this time, the bridge was the loser, according to Gulliver.

"The Roosevelt Circle, on top of the bridge, is going to have a lane restriction in place for some period of time. We're going to be removing somewhere between three and five feet of concrete so there's going to be lane restrictions in place," Gulliver said. "That's likely going to be months before we can get a design done where we can go in and do a full repair and open up Roosevelt Circle back up to its full capacity."

A beam was flatted, snapped into two. And the concrete above it was destroyed. The entire beam and a section of bridge deck, approximately seven feet wide, will need to be demolished between the west abutment and the center pier, which is located above I-93 southbound lanes of travel.

It will be rush hour in the area along Roosevelt Circle in Medford for a while.

The damage came as no surprise to those who heard the crash. Rick Sacco, who lives nearby, heard it from inside his home.

"Something is going on," Sacco said. "I was sitting down watching TV and I heard what sounded like a sonic boom, like a bang. I thought something exploded then I heard a weird scrapping sound and I knew something was going on.”

MassDOT deployed message boards on I-93 southbound for drivers approaching the Medford work zone as far away as the New Hampshire border and also on Interstate 495 and on Interstate 95/Route 128.

Several lanes of I-93 south had to be closed following the incident.

The highway was expected to fully reopen its four lanes by Wednesday, but Roosevelt Circle will be restricted for the next few months. For Jeff Klossner, rush hour will be right outside his front door for months as bridge reconstruction on I-93 south reroutes traffic past his home.

"Obviously not excited," said Klossner, who lives along Roosevelt Circle in Medford. "This is going to be our new normal for the next coming weeks or months."

Klossner said traffic Tuesday was backed up way more than normal.

A maximum of two I-93 southbound travel lanes will be open Tuesday morning, MassDOT said.
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